LABOR GROUP SAYS WAL-MART WORKERS GO ON STRIKE IN LOS ANGELES

(The following is a reformatted version of a press release
issued by the OUR Walmart labor group and received via e-mail.
The release was confirmed by the sender.) 
October 4, 2012 
With Protests against America’s Largest Retailer Expanding
Nationwide, Los Angeles Walmart Workers Walk Off Job 
For the First Time in History, Walmart Faces a Strike Over its
Illegal Retaliation and Attempts to Silence Associates who are
Speaking out for Better Jobs 
Community Supporters Join Workers to Call on Walmart and
Chairman 
Rob Walton to StopRetaliation against Workers who speak out
against Poverty Jobs that are Hurting the American Economy 
LOS ANGELES -As communities across the country raise their
voices in calls for changes at Walmart, workers from stores
throughout the Los Angeles-area went on strike this morning in
the first-ever Walmart Associate walk-out in protest of attempts
to silence and retaliate against workers for speaking out for
improvements on the job.  Hundreds of community supporters,
including Dr. Jose Moreno, Executive Director of Los Amigos,
Maria Elena Durazo, Secretary-Treasurer of the Los Angeles
County Federation of Labor, Rev. Eric Lee, Southern Christian
Leadership Conference, are joining Walmart Associates in their
ongoing calls on Walmart and Chairman Rob Walton to address take
home pay so low that Associates are forced to rely on public
programs to support their families and understaffing that is
keeping workers from receiving sufficient hours and is also
hurting customer service. The company has not only refused to
address these concerns that are affecting 1.4 million Associates
across the country, it has attempted to silence those who speak
out and has retaliated against workers for raising concerns that
would to help the company, workers and the community. 
“Walmart should not be silencing workers for standing up for
what’s good for my store, my co-workers, my family and my
community,” said Venanzi Luna, a striking worker at the Pico
Rivera Walmart.   Luna is one of thousands of members of OUR
Walmart, the nationwide Associate organization calling for
changes at the company.  “I am striking to take a stand against
Walmart’s illegal bullying tactics.” 
The group protested outside the Pico Rivera store with signs
reading, “Stand Up, Live Better, Stop Retaliation” and “Stop
Trying to Silence Us.”  They will be meeting with Walmart
workers from nine countries - where workers all have union
representation - to launch the UNI Walmart Global Union Alliance
to fight for fairness, decent working conditions, and the
fundamental human right of freedom of association; including
allowing workers who want to join a union if they choose to.
This comes as striking distribution center workers outside of
Chicago were joined by hundreds of clergy and community
supporters, some of whom were arrested by riot police during the
peaceful protest.  Warehouse workers in Southern California were
on a 15-day strike that included a six-day, 50-mile pilgrimage
for safe jobs.   This week, OUR Walmart members shared concerns
about the scheduling and staffing problems to a room full of
financial analysts.  And in Dallas and San Diego, hundreds of
people recently held marches calling on Walmart to make changes
that help rebuild the economy. 
“We cannot stand by while the country’s largest employer tries
to silence workers who stand up for a better future for their
families,” said Maria Elena Durazo, Secretary-Treasurer of the
Los Angeles County Federation of Labor.  Durazo along with
communities across the country have been calling for changes
through a Unified Call to Change Walmart. “We are here to tell
Walmart the company must change the way it treats workers and
our community.  Our city and our country need big profitable
corporations like Walmart and billionaires like the Waltons to
take responsibility for rebuilding our economy - and stop
squeezing the middle class to the breaking point.” 
As front line Walmart workers are facing these hardships, the
company is raking in almost $16 billion a year in profits,
executives made more than $10 million each in compensation last
year.  Meanwhile, the Walton Family - heirs to the Walmart
fortune - are the richest family in the country with more wealth
than the bottom 42% of American families combined. 
“Workers at the country’s largest company should not be forced
to rely on public programs just to keep food on the table,” said
Rev. Eric Lee, Southern Christian Leadership Conference. “People
who work hard should be able to afford the basic necessities.
Instead of sweeping these issues under the rug, Walmart and its
leader Rob Walton must take responsibility for building a better
America.” 
Energy around the calls for Walmart to change its treatment of
workers and communities has been building.  In just one year,
OUR Walmart, the unique workers’ organization founded by Walmart
Associates, has grown from a group of 100 Walmart workers to an
army of thousands of Associates in hundreds of stores across 43
states. Together, OUR Walmart members have been leading the way
in calling for an end to double standards that are hurting
workers, communities and our economy. 
The alleged Mexican bribery scandal, uncovered by the New York
Times, has shined a light on the failure of internal controls
within Walmart that extend to significant breaches of compliance
in stores and along the company’s supply chain.  The company is
facing yet another gender discrimination lawsuit on behalf of
100,000 women in California and in Tennessee.  In the company’s
warehousing system, in which Walmart has continually denied
responsibility for the working conditions for tens of thousands
of people who work for warehouses where they move billions of
dollars of goods, workers are facing rampant wage theft and
health and safety violations so extreme that they have led to an
unprecedented $600,000 in fines.   The Department of Labor fined
a Walmart seafood supplier for wage and hour violations, and
Human Rights Watch has spoken out about the failures of controls
in regulating suppliers overseas, including a seafood supplier
in Thailand where trafficking and debt bondagewere cited. 
Financial analysts are also joining the call for Walmart to
create better checks and balances, transparency and
accountability that will protect workers and communities and
strengthen the company.  At the company’s annual shareholder
meeting in Bentonville, OUR Walmart member Jackie Goebel brought
a stadium full of shareholders to their feet applauding her call
for an end to the short staffing that’s hurting workers and
customer service.  A resolution proposed by Associate-shareholders to rein in executive pay received unprecedented
support, and major pension funds that voted their shares against
Walmart CEO and members of the board this June amounting to a
ten-fold increase, and overall 1 in 3 shares not held by
theWalton family against the company’s leadership. 
These widespread problems have also thwarted Walmart’s plans for
growth, particularly in urban markets.  Calling the company a
“bad actor,” New York City mayoral candidates have all been
outspoken in their opposition to Walmart entering the city
without addressing labor and community relations’ problems.
This month, the city’s largest developer announced an agreement
with a union-grocery store at a site that Walmart had hoped
would be its first location in New York. 
In Los Angeles, mayoral candidates are refusing to accept
campaign donations from the deep pockets of Walmart, and in
Boston, Walmart was forced to suspend its expansion into the
city after facing significant community opposition. 
### 
CONTACT:
Dawn Le, 202-549-6798
Allison Mannos, 323-706-8320
Jorge Amaro, 202-412-4998 
(sgp) NY 
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