Wal-Mart employees from stores in the Los Angeles area on Thursday walked off their job to hold a rally outside the Pico Rivera Wal-Mart, accusing the retail chain of retaliating against workers who tried to form a union.
“I’m excited, I’m nervous, I’m scared…” Pico Rivera Wal-Mart employee Evelin Cruz told Salon. “But I think the time has come, so they take notice that these associates are tired of all the issues in the stores, all the management retaliating against you.”
OUR Walmart, a group supported by the United Food and Commercial Workers Union, organized the rally to bring attention to what it claims is an intimidation campaign launched by Wal-Mart to eliminate union activity.
Five employees involved with the group have been fired in the past month. While Wal-Mart said the employees were fired for work-related troubles, OUR Walmart alleged they were terminated for seeking to form a union within the massive company, which employees nearly 1.6 million people.
In June, it was discovered a public relations specialist working on behalf of Wal-Mart posed as a journalist at a press conference held by Warehouse Workers United, which has organized protests against the working conditions at the company’s warehouses. A Wal-Mart spokesman said the company “would ensure this type of activity is not repeated.”
“We cannot stand by while the country’s largest employer tries to silence workers who stand up for a better future for their families,” Maria Elena Durazo, Secretary-Treasurer of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, said in a statement.
Wal-Mart spokesman Dan Fogleman said only “a few” Wal-Mart employees had walked off their job and that the action was too small to be considered a strike. All of the stores in the area remained open.
Watch video of the rally, courtesy of OUR Walmart, below:
[Image courtesy of Aurelio Jose Barrera]