WASHINGTON – Walmart workers and their allies announced Nov. 12 at a press conference here that they will “fast for $15 and full time” in front of the homes of the chain’s owners. The fasts and many other actions will take place during the 15-day period leading up to Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving – traditionally the busiest shopping day of the year.
By declining top join in the national pastime of eating on Thanksgiving Day, Walmart workers intend to bring attention to the poverty wages they receive from their Walmart multi-billion dollar employer. Their salaries, they say, often don’t cover the costs of a nutritional lunch.
The 15-day fast is being organized by the Organization United for Respect at Walmart, OUR Walmart, a worker-led group.
“OUR Walmart’s purpose is to help Walmart employees as individuals or groups in their dealings with Walmart over labor rights and standards,” a statement on the group’s website reads.
“While shoppers get ready to cook their Thanksgiving feasts and take advantage of Black Friday deals, Walmart is still putting profits over their own workers who are unable to buy basic groceries,” Said Tyfani Walker at the press conference. Faulkner is a former customer service manager at a Walmart store in Sacramento, Calif . “That’s why we’re bringing our fight to Walton estates around the country so that they can see the corporate greed that keeps our dinner tables empty.”
Andrea Dehlendorf, the co-executive director of OUR Walmart, explained that stories of hungry Walmart workers and their families are far too common, and that they plan on taking the fight right to the doorstep of the Waltons. Dehlendorf said there are at least 22 organizations supporting the movement, along with more than 1,000 people who have signed up to take part in the fasting so far.
She said the number grows each day as Walmart workers, and their supporters, learn of the fasting. There will be varying degrees of fasting, with the core group sustaining themselves with liquids for the 15 days.
Jasmine Dixon, a Walmart worker and mother of two from Denver Colorado, recounted her struggles on her job. Dixon said she has to go to the food bank constantly, and that she was tired of being mistreated on the job.
She said her story is not unique at Walmart and that the protests would bring “this struggle to working mothers everywhere.”
Denise Barlage, a nine-year worker who was fired for speaking out at the chain’s store in Pico Rivera, Calif., described how her store, a majority of whose workers were Latina women, was closed down due to their protests for better working conditions.
Nancy Reynolds, a Walmart associate in Merritt Island Florida, is petitioning for a 10 percent employee food discount at Walmart. Reynolds explained that due to her diabetes she would not be able to participate in the fast, but was doing her part through the petition.
Rev. Michael Livingston, a church minister and supporter of the movement, said, “There’s the Walmart we see on TV commercials, and then there’s the real Walmart… Its hard work to be poor. This just shouldn’t be what’s happening in our country. Something is fundamentally wrong… Walmart has chosen to put profits over people. They [Walmart] have done well economically and its time they do well by their workers.”
On Nov. 20 #Fastfor15 will mobilize outside of the Walton home in New York City, and on Nov. 24h they will mobilize outside the Walton home in California. For those that want to support the protests they can visit www.protestBlackFriday.com.