On August 5, hundreds of people from Walmart Watch, Making Change at Walmart, Jobs with Justice, and Respect DC blocked 8th st in front of Wal-Mart's DC lobbying headuarters. Wal-Mart, knowing they wanted to deliver a petition for a community benefits agreement, simply ran away, closing the office at 1 PM.
With Wal-Mart trying to worm their way into DC, the fight to keep them out has escalated. Both national labor leaders and organizations of Wal-Mart's workers in other cities now regard DC, New York, and other places Wal-Mart is seeking to enter as the front line.
The organizers of the protest were demanding that Wal-mart pay all workers at least $13 an hour and sign a legally binding "community benefits agreement," something Wal-Mart has never done. Included in the demands are the right to form a union, but Wal-Mart generally closes any store that unions manage to organize.
One of the speakers, an "associate" or worker at a Wal-Mart elsewhere, recounted an episode where associates were permitted to meet with Wal-Mart corporate management in Arkansas, and a bunch of flowery promises were made, including non-retaliation against the organizers. NOT ONE of the promises were kept. Therefore, protesters were emphatic that any conditions put upon Wal-Mart's plans to build their 4 stores in DC would have to be in writing and legally binding, or the same thing that happened before would happen to DC.
Wal-Mart is famous for breaking promises and lying, so protesters emphasized that any nonbinding or unwritten promises would be utterly worthless, now as before. In fact, while hundreds besieged the Wal-Mart lobbying office in DC and Wal-Mart officials scattered like rats at 1 PM to avoid them, they put out on twitter that "A vocal minority" were protesting in DC. Do I hear contempt for DC, instead of "respecting DC" in that?
Never has Wal-Mart signed a community benefits agreement in writing, and the demands being made by the DC protesters for $13 an hour, real health insurance, and union rights, would be toxic to the neo-Confederate, anti-union business model Wal-Mart follows nationally.
These demands, if they can be enforced, will force Wal-Mart to choose between cancelling their plans to invade DC or opening the door to similar community benefits agreements and to unions nationwide. Therefore, there is a good chance that a sucessful CBA campaign will force Wal-Mart to stay out of DC altogether. This would be just fine for DC's neighborhoods, all of DC's existing retail and grocery stores, and anyone who has a job in any business Wal-Mart would threaten. For union workers in Safeway, Giant, and other businesses that would have to "compete" with Wal-Mart's sweatshop sourcing, this is probably the best possible outcome.
In: Other News
Tags: Wal-Mart, Wal-Mart Watch, Respect DC, Wal-Mart free DC, labor, unions
Location: Washington D.C., District of Columbia, United States (load item map)
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