In what organizers are calling the largest act of civil disobedience in Walmart’s history, workers and activists blocked Caesar Chavez Avenue outside of Walmart’s new store in Los Angeles’s Chinatown last Thursday. Fifty-four workers and activists were arrested outside of the new Walmart for protesting the company’s harsh labor practices that include “poverty wages” and unpredictable part-time hours. “I got arrested today because I believe that taking this step will encourage others to be brave and step forward and stand up to the world’s largest retailer,” said Richard Reynoso, a full time Walmart worker who, like 825,000 of his full time co-workers, makes less than $25,000 a year.
Protesters who went on strike on Thursday night demanded that Walmart pay all of its full-time employees at least $25,000 a year, contending that any amount less than that is not enough to live on. Andrew Goyita, a Walmart employee participating in the protest, said he believes he will make about $12,000 this year and says it is hard “to make sure my family doesn’t go hungry”. He said he has been asking his managers for a full-time position, but Walmart often hires temporary workers instead.
The Thursday night protest comes almost a year on the heels of walk-out protests that OUR Walmart, a union-backed workers group, helped organize across Southern California in opposition to what they deem as systematic mistreatment and disrespect of employees by the country’s largest private employer.
Media Resources: Colorlines 11/8/13; Feminist Newswire 10/4/12; OUR Walmart; Huffington Post 11/8/2013