Walmart workers take a big risk when they speak out. Despite laws protecting this conduct, Walmart illegally fires many of them for standing up and going on strike. Settling these lawsuits can take years.
Walmart thinks that when they fire someone, they’re intimidating workers into keeping silent. They’re wrong.
Instead of the problem going away for Walmart when they fire a worker, what if that worker could become an organizer? What if instead of being unemployed, they could use all of their work hours talking to their coworkers about the importance of changing Walmart?
Your contribution below will make that possible. Donations go directly to fund a brigade of fired workers as they continue to organize and stand up for change at Walmart. Can you sponsor a fired worker?
Why she stood up: “I was tired of being forced to rely on government assistance when I worked for richest family in America.”
Why she is still fighting: “I want to see Walmart be a better company for the 1.3 million people who work there.”
About: Barbara Collins has been one of the strongest and most prominent spokespeople for the movement to change Walmart. As a single mother who worked at Walmart for six years, Barbara was forced to rely on government assistance to make ends meet. She went on strike around Black Friday and then boldly went on strike again in June to travel to Walmart’s shareholders’ meeting to protest Walmart’s illegal retaliation against workers who spoke out. When she heard that Walmart had started firing her fellow strikers, she stood up. She held a sit-in at Walmart Board of Directors member Marissa Mayer’s Yahoo! office and was arrested for refusing to leave. The next day, she publicly confronted Mayer about Walmart’s illegal termination of workers who were simply exercising their right to speak out. When she returned home, Walmart fired her.
Why he stood up: “I was tired of seeing my coworkers disrespected.”
Why he is still fighting: “Because if we don’t stand up, nothing is going to change.”
About: Brandon Garrett was raised by a strong, single mother. Growing up, Brandon excelled in the classroom and in multiple sports. When it came time for him to go to college, Brandon was excited to begin his career as a collegiate football player. Then his mother fell ill. She was unable to work to support herself so he left college and moved back home to Baton Rouge, Louisiana to help support her. He found a job working at Walmart in Baker, Louisiana. He soon discovered that Walmart treated its workers disrespectfully and paid wages that made just getting by difficult. He saw how his store was always understaffed and the workers overworked. Brandon felt that all of the employees should be treated better and Walmart should take more pride in their workers. In June, Brandon decided to bravely stand up and went on strike, traveling across the country by bus to Walmart’s annual shareholders meeting to protest the company’s attempts to silence workers. When he returned, he was terminated for going on strike.
Why he stood up: “I knew the changes I was seeing in my store weren’t isolated. By cutting corners and costs, Walmart wasn’t just hurting us as Associates, they were hurting the entire business. I wanted to stand up and change the direction we were headed.”
Why he is still fighting: “After investing nearly two decades of my life in Walmart, I can’t just turn my back on my coworkers. I want to see Walmart be the company it once was. I want to see my former coworkers be able to care for their families.”
About: For 17 of the 19 years the Walmart store in Paramount, California has been open, Carlton Smith has been there. Married for 27 years and a grandfather of four, Carlton started as an overnight stocker making just $5.50/hr. and worked his way up to department manager in housewares. As a long-time employee, Carlton noticed the store taking a turn for the worse. Workers’ hours were cut, schedules were changed and these changes started to negatively impact customers and employees alike. Checkout lines grew and the store became untidy. Workers struggled with the low wages and unaffordable benefits. In October 2011, Carlton joined the Organization United for Respect at Walmart (OUR Walmart), a group of Walmart workers from across the nation who work together to improve conditions for all employees. As a leader with OUR Walmart, Carlton encouraged others to stand up, speak out, and call on Walmart to change. Carlton’s courage led him to go on strike on Black Friday 2012 to protest illegal retaliation. He continued as a vocal leader speaking up for change. Then, just shortly before his planned retirement, Walmart fired him. Carlton continues to join with his coworkers as they push Walmart to be a better company.
Why he stood up: “I wanted Walmart to treat us with respect.”
Why he is still fighting: “Walmart is one of the few employers in my town. I can’t just decide it’s no longer my problem. I have to change Walmart if I want to help my community.”
About: Christopher Collins started working at Walmart right out of high school. Walmart was one of the few job opportunities in his hometown. Two years later at 21 years old, he was still only making $8.30/hr. as a cart pusher, taking home around just $900 each month. His mom worked at Walmart before moving on and she encouraged him to apply. Early on in his experience, he found that management often treated workers with disrespect. They would give workers unachievable work quotas and punish them for being unable to fulfill them. Chris decided to stand up. He joined his coworkers and went on strike in June to defend his coworkers’ right to speak up for change. Walmart fired Chris for unexcused absences during the strike. That didn’t stop Chris. He continues to work to change Walmart in his community.
Why he stood up: “It didn’t seem right to watch my coworkers struggle to pay their bills when they worked for such a profitable company.”
Why he is still fighting: “I could quit and just go work somewhere else, but I know Walmart sets the standards for working people in this country. We have to change them to change our future.”
About: Colby Harris began working at Walmart three years ago, because it was one of the few employers in the area offering work. He took the position hoping for a chance to earn enough money to move out of his mother’s home and get his own place. He quickly realized that even working full-time, the pay he received from Walmart wasn’t enough to cover the cost of his own apartment. Colby joined OUR Walmart after talking to coworkers about inadequate hours and poor scheduling. He became a prominent leader and spokesperson for the organization, going on television multiple times to talk about the reality of working at Walmart. He bravely participated in three strikes and, despite facing retaliation from Walmart, continued standing strong with his coworkers. After his first strike, managers changed his schedule so that he would have to work on Sunday. After the second strike, management brought him into the office and told him his conduct was under review. After the third strike, management followed him and assigned extra managers to his department to observe his work. He was eventually fired for absences during the time he was on strike. He continues to speak out and inspire his coworkers with his bold actions.
Why he stood up: “Because I wanted Walmart to treat all of my coworkers with the dignity they deserve.”
Why he is still fighting: “Every Goliath needs a David. I think that’s what we can be through OUR Walmart if we don’t give up.”
About: Born and raised in Oakland, CA, Dominic Ware has always had a strong sense of pride in his community. He grew up in a tough environment, with no strong male role models. When he was young, he found himself caught up in the wrong crowd and eventually got into trouble. He took a hard look at himself and found the strength to take a new path through his faith in God. He was excited to do it right this time and happy to start as a cart-pusher at Walmart. He soon found that it was difficult to get by on just $8.25/hr., especially when he wasn’t even getting the hours he needed to make ends meet. More than anything, he was troubled by management’s treatment of the workers. Instead of giving up, Dominic became one of OUR Walmart’s most vocal spokespeople and a charismatic leader in his store. When he went on strike to protest Walmart’s illegal retaliation in June, he bravely went on television to speak out about the issues workers face everyday in their stores. When he returned home, Walmart fired him for absences while he was on strike. Dominic continues to challenge Walmart and be a strong leader among workers in the Bay Area.
Why he stood up: “I wanted to make Walmart a safer place to work for my coworkers.”
Why he is still fighting: “I want my children to see what people can accomplish if they stand up together for what is right.”
About: As a hard working father, Gerry worked at Walmart for more than 6 years to support his family. When he was injured at work, he became passionate about safety issues in his store. He began talking about safety, wages and hours with his coworkers. Walmart started to target him, but he didn’t back down. He fought the company and Walmart eventually agreed to post a sign saying the company would obey federal laws and allow workers to discuss concerns issues and come together to act collectively. Gerry traveled to Bentonville, Arkansas as a striker. When he returned home, Walmart suspended him without giving him a reason and later fired him.
Why he stood up: “I think that everyone who works fulltime should be able to take care of themselves and their family. That’s not true of Walmart’s wages.”
Why he is still fighting: “I want my baby to come into a world where people aren’t punished for standing up for what is right. That’s why I’ll keep speaking out until Walmart respects our right to do so as employees.”
About: Jovani is 25 years old and is about to become a father. He is working hard to create a better future for his baby and is going to school to get his degree as a pharmacy technician. After five years with Walmart, Jovani made just $9.55/hr. working the meat department. When he first started at Walmart, he enjoyed working there. Then in 2010, he saw a major shift as the company began to change its policies. He started to speak up about Walmart’s low wages and the lack of respect they showed for their employees. He went out on strike to protest retaliation in June. When he returned, he was fired for absences during the strike. He continues to work with his former co-workers to stand up for change at Walmart.
Why she stood up: “I couldn’t get by on $8.80/hr. I didn’t have a choice, but to stand up.”
Why she is still fighting: “The way Walmart treats it’s employees isn’t right. That’s something that all people who care about justice should care about.”
About: Lana Stewart is the proud mother of three and grandmother of 2. She worked at Walmart in Maryland for just a short while as a cashier, where she earned $8.80/hr. Lana decided that something needed to be done about Walmart’s poverty wages. She remembered that the $2.90 she made as a 14-year-old went farther than the money she was making at Walmart. She decided to stand up. Shortly after management saw her talking to a vocal OUR Walmart member in her store, she was targeted and terminated. She continues to stand up and even participated in an act of civil disobedience in September to raise awareness of Walmart.
Why she stood up: “I wanted Walmart to give my coworkers and me enough hours to be able to pay our bills each month. I didn’t want to see my electricity turned off again for my grandson’s sake.”
Why she is still fighting: “As the world’s largest private employer, Walmart impacts us all. We need to change it if things are ever going to get better for the rest of us.”
About: Lisa worked in the deli department at Walmart for almost two years when she was fired. As a single mother who is helping to raise her grandchild, Lisa struggled to get the hours and pay she needed to consistently support her family. She was eventually forced to take a second job and turn to public assistance to make ends meet. As one of the first OUR Walmart members in her area, she developed a personal friendship with U.S. Congressman Alan Grayson who walked her off the job when she wenton strike on Black Friday in 2012. Just before going on strike to protest retaliation and traveling by bus to visit Walmart’s headquarters last summer, Lisa was featured in a viral video about the difficulty of supporting a family on Walmart wages. When she returned home from the strike, Walmart fired her based on a flimsy excuse regarding where she could place her copy of the company’s policy book a month before. Inspired by her illegal termination, Rep. Grayson has put forth new legislation to help protect workers like Lisa when they speak out.
Why he stood up: “I’ve been bullied my whole life, so I know a bully when I see one. It isn’t right that management would get away with bullying workers, because of their sexuality.”
Why he is still fighting: “I want people to feel comfortable and safe at work. Walmart employees more people than any other company in America. We can’t change our economy until we change Walmart.”
About: Lucas Handy started working at the Walmart in Fort Dodge, IA, like his father and cousin had before him. In his small town in rural Iowa, Walmart is one of the few choices for employment. Shortly after he started working there, Lucas noticed that many of the LGBT staff members, he included, were treated unfairly. He had learned to fend for himself at a young age, as his devout Catholic parents had kicked him out of his house when he first came out in his teenage years. He found OUR Walmart online and started speaking out against bullying in the workplace. He joined workers from across the country in going on the Ride for Respect and joining the first-ever prolonged strike at a Walmart. About a month after returning to work, Walmart targeted him and he was fired. He continues to stand up for respect for his former coworkers.
Why he stood up: “I wasn’t against Walmart. I wanted to see the company do well, but I also wanted to see them treat their workers right.”
Why he is still fighting: “I still think we can change this company and make it a better place to work.”
About: Marc Bowers worked at Walmart for eight years. He is a young and passionate OUR Walmart member from Lancanster, Texas. He started working there after he was laid-off from his job at Albertson when the supermarket closed down in 2005. Working at Walmart, he started to become concerned with how the company was treating his coworkers. A few of the managers would push workers, testing their patience by yelling at them and writing them up when they couldn’t complete their tasks quickly enough. He decided to join OUR Walmart to speak out about issues in his store. He knew it was time for him speak up and let people know what it means to work at Walmart. He stood up and went on strike to defend his coworkers’ right to speak out, but was fired for going on strike. He continues to work for change at the company.
Why she stood up: “I was tired of management degrading me and making me feel small.”
Why she is still fighting: “I believe all workers should be treated with respect. We’re humanbeings.”
About: Norma Dobyns is a strong woman. She raised six children as a single mother. After her children became adults and moved away, Norma found a job with Walmart. As a cashier he earned $8.40 an hour, totaling a meager $832 each month to live on. Norma decided to stand up, because she was tired of being harassed and bullied by Walmart’s management and was struggling to get by on their poverty wages. She went on strike to stand up for her coworkers’ right to speak out. Two weeks after Norma came back to work, Walmart fired her for absences during the strike. Norma was forced to move in with a friend, because she could no longer afford to pay her rent. She is passionate about staying involved with the movement to change Walmart.
Why she stood up: “I didn’t agree with how Walmart was asking me to push my staff to fulfill unreasonable quotas.”
Why she is still fighting: “I’ve watched many people come-and-go at Walmart. I can’t just go away. That’s not me. When I see something wrong, I have to stay and fix it.”
About: Pam Davis worked in the electronics department which she found to be constantly understaffed and overworked. Pam brought the unreasonable workload to management’s attention and they dismissed her concerns. She refused to be quiet about the injustices she saw in her store. Instead, she joined OUR Walmart and become an active leader. Pam was fired for going on strike, but she refuses to quit fighting for a better company.
Why he stood up: “The wages at Walmart weren’t fair, but the disrespect was even worse. When I heard my manager bullying my coworkers and making racist remarks, I just couldn’t stay quiet anymore.”
Why he is still fighting: “Walmart thinks that by firing me, they’re silencing me and making me go away. I want to show them that they don’t have that power.”
About: Raymond Bravo knows the meaning of hard work. When he was young, his family moved around a lot. When he was just 14-years-old, Raymond started working as a farmworker at a Californian apricot farm. As an adult, Raymond started working for Walmart in maintenance. He worked hard to provide for himself, but was still forced to rely on the government for healthcare. After Raymond found OUR Walmart on Facebook, he connected with other workers and started speaking up for himself and his coworkers. He bravely went on strike on Black Friday and again last June to protest retaliation against workers who speak out for change. When he returned, he was illegally fired for absences during the strike. He continues to be a strong leader in the Bay Area and works closely with his former coworkers for change.
Why he stood up: “I wanted to work in an environment where everyone was respected.”
Why he is still fighting: “I want to make Walmart a better place to work for my coworkers who are still there.”
About: Tavarus Yates planned to go to college when he graduated from Trinity Christian Academy. He wanted to go to school and maybe even try to walk on and try out for the basketball team. After seeing his mother struggle to pay bills, keep gas in her car and pay school tuition, he decided he’d go directly to work instead. He found a job at Walmart working overnight in the frozen food section. He disliked the way managers treated his coworkers and wanted to do something about it. He eventually heard about OUR Walmart. He attended a prayer breakfast hosted by the group where Tavarus decided he wanted to stand up and join them. He went on strike in June to protest Walmart’s attempts to silence and intimidate its employees. Walmart fired Tavarus for standing up, but he continues working to change the company as an active OUR Walmart member.
Why she stood up: “I was frustrated with the lack of voice workers had and our low pay.”
Why she is still fighting: “I want to show Walmart I’m not going to go away that easily.”
About: Vanessa Ferreira worked at Walmart as a cake decorator for around eight years. One day, her managers saw her talking to a worker-organizer. Later that day, the company disciplined her for a mistake on a cake that was not entirely her own and was something no one had ever been disciplined for before. She decided to become more involved with OUR Walmart and started to work to change the company. Before Black Friday 2012, she asked managers if they would be fired for striking. Despite it being her legally protected right, she was told that they would deal with it on a case-by-case basis. When she went on strike, her managers called the police on her and her family. Walmart continued to target Vanessa and eventually terminated her. She continues to be an active and vocal voice for change at Walmart.
Why she stood up: “I was tired of Walmart’s management bullying us.”
Why she is still fighting: “Because someone needs to stand up the bully.”
About: Yvette Brown is 26 years old and is the daughter of Norma Dobyns (another Walmart worker who was fired for going on strike). Yvette made just $8.80/hr. while working at Walmart. She and her husband pooled their salaries to rent a small basement apartment. They made due by going without any luxuries and cutting back on necessities. Like her mother, Yvette is a strong woman. In her youth, she struggled with a learning disability and her speech impediment. Despite all she had overcome, Walmart management would often mock her, imitating her speech impediment or call her “slow” if she was unable to meet their excessively high quotas. Tired of being bullied and seeing Walmart scare her coworkers into remaining silent, Yvette went on strike. She was fired upon her return.
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