IBEW Local 1245 activists once again joined with Walmart workers and other labor activists on Black Friday to take action for fair wages and respect at work.
Walmart is the largest and most profitable company in the country, yet its “associates” are forced to rely on public assistance because the employer refuses to give the workers fair wages, hours and benefits. Several years ago, the OUR Walmart coalition decided to embrace Black Friday — the biggest shopping day of the year — as an annual opportunity to draw attention to the unjust working conditions and call on the company to do right by its workers. This year, instead of sponsoring large-scale regional actions, the coalition decided to spread out and flyer as many stores as possible. Additionally, some of the Walmart workers engaged in a solidarity-based “Fast for $15” as well, to demand a $15/hour minimum wage.
IBEW 1245 Organizing Steward Eric Sunderland hit two different Walmart locations. He spent the morning passing out flyers at the Rancho Cordova store, and in the afternoon, he traveled to the Lead Hill store in Roseville where he joined up with a larger group of OUR Walmart members and supporters.
“With the help of many disparate groups — including IBEW 1245, CLUW, Raise the Wage Davis, Raise the Wage Sacramento, BLM, SEIU UHW, UAW, IUPAT, the Sacramento Labor Council, the Brown Berets and OUR Walmart — we were able to cover nine stores and hand out 2,000 flyers!” Sunderland reported. “Our flyers had a description of Walmart’s working conditions (part time work, low wages, non-predictive schedules and lack of respect from management) with the ask being to call corporate and lodge a complaint. The customers were receptive and mostly aware of the plight of low-wage workers at Walmart, with many saying they would make the call.”
“It’s funny that Walmart’s slogan is ‘Save money, Live better’ … but at what cost?” remarked IBEW 1245 Organizing Steward Nilda Garcia, who brought her family and colleague Sandi Busse out to pass flyers in the Walmart parking lot for the third year in a row.
“We spoke with a few folks who were in support of the Fast for $15,” Garcia reported, noting that the store was not nearly as busy as it has been in previous years. “Sandi got a couple people who blatantly stated they didn’t care to raise the wage or to help Walmart employees get a fair living wage. She couldn’t believe some people actually felt that way. As I stated to her, we have a lot of work to do, and we will continue the fight. We are working people standing together, and getting involved is what can make the difference.”