With ‘widespread, massive strikes’ across U.S., what’s going on at Philly Walmart locations?
Workers at Walmart have been striking for better wages for the better part of two months. Just in the past week, employees at the gigantic box chain store walked out in Tampa, Florida and Sacramento, California. More strikes are planned for Friday in the California Bay Area, Chicago, Seattle, Sacramento, Seattle, Washington, D.C., and Los Angeles.
The strikers are demanding at least $25,000 per year, full-time positions and an end to strike retaliation, and until the massive corporation gives in, there seems to be no end in sight, even though the strikes are not expected to put much of a dent in the company’s profits.
“Widespread, massive strikes” are expected at nationwide Walmarts the day after Thanksgiving, which is largely thought of as the most gluttonous, shopping-heavy day of the year in the U.S.
But one place we haven’t heard of any strikers leaving their corporate setting is in Philadelphia or the Greater area. To figure out what’s going on, I contacted William Epstein, communications director at UFCW Local 1776, who helped organize a “solidarity” showing and petition drive outside the box store along Columbus Boulevard last year.
“We’ll be out in a pretty good number at [the Walmart stores off Columbus Blvd. and Aramingo Ave.],” says Epstein, “to say, basically, ‘here’s a company that this most recent year made $17 billion in profits; the major owners of the company, the so-called Walmart heirs, together, have more wealth of 42 percent of the entire population … They can afford to be a more responsible company.’”
Epstein expects 40-50 people, “perhaps more,” affiliated with UFCW and local community organizing groups, in each location.
Earlier this month, it was reported that a Walmart in Cleveland, Ohio, was holding a food drive for its own employees who do not make enough money to afford basic food supplies. “Please donate food items so associates in need can enjoy Thanksgiving dinner,” read a sign alongside several plastic bins in the store. Indeed, many minimum wage Walmart workers and other workers are forced onto government assistance, even though they’re working adults. A recent study showed that Walmart is one of the biggest beneficiaries of food stamps.
“There’s no reason in the world someone working full-time at Walmart shouldn’t be making at least $25,000 a year to be able to feed and clothe their families,” continues Epstein.
He notes that there has not been a sighting of a food drive at a local Walmart, “but the facts are the same,” he adds. “These people earn the same minimum wage, they don’t get enough hours to support their family … This is happening all over the country. We don’t have any reason to believe it’s any different here.”
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