Thousands of Wal-Mart workers and their union supporters are staging protests across the United States against the company’s practice of keeping its employees poor.
The campaigners are protesting wages and conditions that are so low that many of them are forced to file for government assistance. They want wages of at least $25,000 annually, more full-time openings and an end to retaliation by America’s largest private employer against workers who speak out about their conditions.
With rallies planned outside 1,500 stores, the wave of protests will mark a dramatic increase in the opposition to Walmart’s pay structure from Black Friday 2012, when similar events were staged in about 1,000 stores.
“I think we got our message across, and people listened,” said Isaiah Beaman, 21, a Walmart worker in Landover, Maryland, who travelled to Alexandria in Virginia to join about 200 protesters there. “All we want is for Walmart to give us a living wage and show us some respect – that’s not too much to ask from a multi-billion dollar company.”
Norma Torres, a Democratic state senator in California who took part in a rally outside a Walmart store in her district of Pomona, said that the workers “refuse to live in fear and refuse to accept the scraps which they are being paid. They don’t want a hand-out, they want a decent wage for their hard work.”