LA Protests Walmart’s Poverty Wages

walmart-359Fifty-four Walmart workers, members of the clergy and community members sat down in the middle of the street in Downtown Los Angeles Thursday evening to call for an end to retaliation and a salary of at least $25,000 a year for Walmart workers.

Maria Elena Durazo, executive secretary-treasurer of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor:

Walmart has proven its willingness to break the law by illegally firing workers and trying to silence them. We are sitting down today to demonstrate that we won’t allow these dirty tactics in Los Angeles.

Pointing to the $17 billion in annual profits and the $144.7 billion wealth of the Walton family, Durazo said Walmart can and should do more to improve jobs, and in turn, the local and national economy.


We need good jobs in Los Angeles. We need stable jobs that pay well and that’s not what Walmart offers. There’s no reason the world’s largest company can’t pay workers $25,000 a year.

Durazo was one of dozens arrested in the largest ever act of civil disobedience against the mega-retailer. The protest follows the arrest of 21 clergy members and Walmart workers in September.

walmart-355Alongside Durazo were Walmart workers like Richard Reynoso, one of as many as 825,000 Walmart workers who are paid less than $25,000 a year.

Recently, Walmart US CEO Bill Simon disclosed in a presentation that 475,000 Walmart workers are paid more than $25,000 a year; meaning that as many as 825,000 Walmart workers are paid less. Reynoso, who has worked at Walmart for about a year and a half, struggles to pay his bills makes far less than $25,000 a year – even though he has a rare full-time job.

Reynoso, who is an overnight stocker at the Duarte Walmart, said

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. Walmart can’t silence me.

The protest comes almost exactly one year after the first-ever strike at Walmart began in Los Angeles. In that historic event workers at the Pico Rivera Walmart put their jobs on the line to end the illegal retaliation when they walked off the job. They set off a wave of strikes and protests around the nation.

walmart-358Dan Hindman, a Walmart worker at the Paramount store who makes less than $25,000 a year:

When I went on strike last year I had no idea what would happen, but I knew I had to do something to change Walmart. I am simply blown away by what has happened since then. We are winning, we have so much support and we are forcing Walmart to pay attention to its workers.

Clergy members representing many different faiths joined the workers. Faith leaders’ support has been constant for workers who are risking their jobs by taking on Walmart’s policies.

Pastor Bridie C. Roberts, a program director at CLUE LA:

walmart-357Americans want Walmart to own up to its position as the largest employer in the country and stop creating an economy that forces workers to take jobs that are unstable and pay less than what they need. Walmart workers are risking their livelihoods to speak out for all American families. But instead of listening to workers and respecting their rights, Walmart is illegally intimidating, threatening, and even firing workers. Clergy members will continue to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with Walmart workers until the corporate giant changes its course toward real and positive change.

jamie-wayWalmart has set its sights on expanding in urban areas like Los Angeles, but community opposition to its treatment of workers, effect on local business and negative environmental impact has been great.

In June a judge ruled that Burbank must rescind building permits it issued to Walmart to open a store in response to a lawsuit filed by community members. In New York and Boston community members have also successfully blocked Walmart from moving into the country’s densest areas.

Jamie Way
Making Change at Walmart Campaign

Saturday, 9 November 2013


  1. Ryder says

    This is an unfortunate piece… The author makes far too many mistakes in her presentation, and presumes things she can’t know.

    How does she know Walmart pays less than what people “need”? Does the concept make any sense at all? It’s totally subjective.

    What we do know, is that when people are not forced to work for Walmart, they take positions voluntarily. When they do, this means, in actual fact, that Walmart is offering them something they value enough to take.

    Now, if Walmart is being deceptive… making promises to employees they don’t keep, that’s entirely another thing.

    Walmart does what this author does not. Jamie Way is, presumably, not offering jobs to anyone, let alone the numbers represented at a single Walmart store.

    What this author fails to recognize is that the real minimum wage is ZERO. It has always been, and always will be.

    Walmart can be replaced by China+Amazon+UPS. And where are all of these Walmart employees going to go, when China+Amazon+UPS win over retail outlets, because busy-bodies like Jaime Way cause Walmart to no longer offer a service people are willing to pay for?

    Sustainability is all about not wasting resources. Using employees that require far more pay is the same as buying an SUV that requires far more gas. It’s waste.

    While Walmart is feeding America, Jamie Way is making noise, and not understanding basic economics… and how what she is doing, is HURTING Walmart employees by inching them toward the real minimum wage of ZERO.

    Not all people that seek work need high wages. It’s that simple. They have other income, or live at home, or have any of a million arrangements that make Walmart “work” for them, as a personal choice.

    If this personal choice doesn’t work for a particular Walmart employee… well, they are free to go… they made a mistake in their choice, and hopefully they learned something along the way.

    If Jamie would take responsibility for the 10 people fired for every thousand that received a small pay raise at Walmart, then I wouldn’t be so hard on her, but the fact is, she won’t take responsibility for those 10 people. She’ll never know them.

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