A flash mob sporting signs from the “rebel alliance” of Star Wars fame surprised a group of Walmart executives last night when they showed up at a fundraiser in Washington, D.C.’s Union Square, banging drums and playing the film’s famous theme song.
Chanting “hey-hey, ho-ho, corporate greed has got to go,” the demonstration went on for about 30 minutes before protesters left. There were no arrests.
The protest was a joint action put on by an alliance between protesters at “Occupy D.C.” and the labor rights group “Respect D.C.,” a coalition of organizations that demand fair wages for working people.
On Respect D.C.’s website, they explain the motivation for staging the flash mob: “Wal-Mart is only required to pay the District’s minimum wage, currently $8.25 per hour. The company says it will pay competitive wages, but does not specify what competitive means. Many workers in suburban stores, even after several years with Wal-Mart, make less than the $12.50, the current living wage as defined by D.C. law. Low-wage jobs do not help workers, especially those with families, move out of poverty to become contributors to the District’s tax base and economy.”
The group has pushed Walmart to sign a community benefits agreement to pay workers a livable wage, and to take steps to mitigate the traffic and other environmental impacts around its stores.
“Wal-Mart can be a force to improve wages and benefits for workers in the District,” they explain. “According to the Center for Labor Research and Education at the University of California Berkeley, if Wal-Mart were to increase workers’ pay to $12 an hour, and pass 100 percent of the wage increase on to consumers, the average impact on a Wal-Mart shopper would be $0.46 per shopping trip, or $12.49 per year.”
This video was published to YouTube on Thursday, Oct. 20, 2011.
Stephen C. Webster is the senior editor of Raw Story, and is based out of Austin, Texas. He previously worked as the associate editor of The Lone Star Iconoclast in Crawford, Texas, where he covered state politics and the peace movement’s resurgence at the start of the Iraq war. Webster has also contributed to publications such as True/Slant, Austin Monthly, The Dallas Business Journal, The Dallas Morning News, Fort Worth Weekly, The News Connection and others. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenCWebster.
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