9to5 | Statement: Congratulations, OUR Walmart! Raise for workers, momentum for more changes!
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Statement: Congratulations, OUR Walmart! Raise for workers, momentum for more changes!

Statement: Congratulations, OUR Walmart! Raise for workers, momentum for more changes!

Linda Meric
National Executive Director, 9to5
(303) 628-0925 x15 or lindam@9to5.org

Feb. 25, 2015 — Last week, members of OUR Walmart won a huge victory – a raise for half a million Walmart workers nationwide whose families desperately need better pay and regular hours. By talking to shoppers, investors, elected leaders and taxpayers, Walmart workers generated enough pressure on this giant corporation to successfully push them to publicly commit to raising wages. And this victory isn’t important only for the 500,000 Walmart workers who should be seeing increased paychecks. Because Walmart is the nation’s largest employer, it can set standards and trends for all low-wage employers and workers, the majority of whom are women.

OUR Walmart members have stood up for what’s right for the company and for their families, and they are continuing to win real changes at America’s largest employer. 9to5 is proud to stand in solidarity with Walmart workers as they celebrate last week’s announcement and as they continue to organize for the changes they need and deserve.

And, unfortunately, there is much more that needs to be done. It’s true that Walmart is addressing one of the issues that workers have been raising about low pay, and acknowledging how many of their employees are paid less than $10 an hour. But a $9 starting wage and $10 aren’t enough.

As 9to5 Colorado and OUR Walmart activist Barb Gertz says, “Although raising the starting wage to $9 does help many workers’ paychecks, it still is not enough. The increase isn’t even enough for many workers to get off of public assistance and to be able to support themselves. It is interesting that the company finally acknowledges that workers’ wages are a problem, yet makes no mention of the workers they illegally terminated for speaking out for better wages.”

And many Walmart workers are not getting the hours they need to make ends meet and support their families. Especially without a guarantee of getting regular hours, last week’s announcement still falls short of what American workers need to support their families.  With $16 billion in profits and $150 billion in wealth for the owners, Walmart can afford to provide the good jobs that Americans need – and that means $15 an hour, full-time, consistent hours and respect for their employees’ hard work.

As Barb says, the corporation’s announcement also does not address the illegal firings of many of the worker activists who have been speaking out for better jobs, benefits and a safer work environment. “Walmart needs to rehire the workers that they illegally fired for speaking out about wages and a safe workplace. They are the largest retailer in the world and a multi-billion dollar company – there is no reason why they can’t pay us a living wage and treat us with respect.” We need Walmart to make a real commitment to end this silencing of workers who are trying to improve their families’ lives, and to reinstate all workers who have been fired.

9to5 and other women’s, community, labor and faith organizations will continue to support OUR Walmart until Walmart publicly commits to $15 an hour and full-time, consistent hours, so that its workers have the decent jobs and dignity they and their families need and deserve.