Over 100 People Brave Cold on Black Friday in Ithaca to Demand Wal-Mart Take Lead in $15/Hour and Full Time Work
(Ithaca) Over 100 people gathered for two hours in sub-freezing conditions this past Friday on Black Friday in Ithaca, outside of the Ithaca Wal-Mart, to call Wal-Mart to task over it’s low wages and lack of full time work for those workers who want to work full time. Recognizing that Wal-Mart is not the only big-box store to engage in egregious labor practices, the organizers of the rally which included the Tompkins County Workers’ Center, the Central New York Area Labor Federation, AFL-CIO; the Labor-Religion Coalition of the Finger Lakes; and the Midstate Central Labor Council, focus on Wal-Mart because of its leadership our nation’s retail industries.
At the end of the two hour protest, one of over 2200 such protests nationally, fifteen or so of the protestors (including two elected officials, Cynthia Brock, 1st Ward Councilperson for the City of Ithaca and Town of Caroline Board Member, John Fraccia) delivered a letter on behalf of all those outside, and in the community, stating our demands. The text of the letter can be found below.
Dear Floyd Bump, Wal-Mart Store Manager:
As members of this community, we are very concerned that Walmart associates – our family, friends, and neighbors – work so hard for such low pay. And, when they speak out about their concerns about pay, hours, and respect, Walmart managers illegally try to silence and intimidate them.
We are here today to support Walmart workers who are willing to risk their jobs fighting for better working conditions for themselves and their co-workers. They’re standing up against the illegal retaliation they face for speaking out – and we are proud to stand with them.
Walmart pays most associates less than $25,000 a year – that’s not enough for people to cover the basics for their kids, let alone pay their bills or support their families. If the low pay didn’t make life tough enough for associates, a lot of Walmart managers manipulate worker schedules to keep people from working full time. That not only makes them ineligible for benefits, but inconsistent, insufficient schedules and paychecks wreak havoc on people’s families, budgets, and lives. That’s why associates in more than 2,000 stores across the country have signed a petition asking for $15 per hour and access to consistent, full-time work.
At the same time Walmart workers are struggling to pay the bills, the Walton family has a net worth of more than $145 billion. They’re the richest family in America, with more wealth than 42% of American families combined. Walmart rakes in $16 billion a year in profits. And the Walton family earns 8.6 million a day in dividend earnings alone. Walmart and the Walton family can afford to do better for their employees. In fact, a recent Fortune article said that Walmart could afford to give workers a 50% raise without hurting its stock prices.
As a store manager, you have the power to treat workers with respect and make meaningful changes that allow associates to earn a dignified living. When you hear workers’ calls for “$15 and full time”, instead of threatening, disciplining, or firing workers who stand up, why not give them access to full-time hours and a paycheck that can support a family?
Our community strongly supports the workers at your store, and shares their concerns.
We urge you to do what you can to make this Walmart the responsible employer the people who live and work in our community need.