Our next honoree for this year's award celebration goes to the members of the OUR Walmart Campaign. Representing the campaign and Walmart workers is Tiffany Beroid.
For the last decade, people of faith would ask IWJ staff and board members, “What can we do about Walmart?” Thanks to the courageous and innovative work of the OUR Walmart leaders and the talented organizing work of the UFCW Walmart team, Making Change at Walmart appears possible.
We’ve long known that Walmart could afford to make a change. It can afford to pay its workers living wages and still have low prices. It must simply share some of its prosperity with its workers.
We’ve long known that Walmart expects the public to subsidize its employees. Many of its workers rely on food stamps, medicaid and other public services to make ends meet because Walmart is so stingy with its workers. Did you see the Walmart store that was collecting food for its own employees? Shameful.
We’ve long known that Walmart has really tight ties with political figures. All the way up to the White House. Oh yes.
What we didn’t know was whether workers and allies together could bring about a change. And I don’t know about you, but I think we can. OUR Walmart has got them on the run. Black Friday is no longer a day where Walmart promotes its cheap deals, but one where families protest Walmart’s behavior. We have Thanksgiving on Thursday and visit Walmart stores on Friday. Oh yes, I like this tradition. This year, the Our Walmart generated actions at 1500 stores. IWJ helped organize 150 of them and it was such a privilege.
But its not only Black Friday. Its workers walking off the job and the NLRB upholding their rights to do so. Its workers organizing in the stores to improve conditions. Its workers challenging Walton family members. Its workers networking with their colleagues. OUR Walmart knows you can’t organize Walmart in traditional ways. But workers can still organize for change and they are.
And Walmart is clearly responding. The company has an all-out PR offensive claiming what a great employer it is. At this last year’s shareholder meeting, the mantra was “if you have talent and work hard, we provide opportunity.” How about just providing good paying jobs?
Today, I ask you to join me in giving the OUR Walmart Campaign the Award for Innovative Leadership.