Standing with Walmart workers on Black Friday

Adam DeRose |

for respectYesterday, IWJ supporters were joined on a call by Mary Watkines and Janet Sparks, two amazing worker-leaders from the Organization United for Respect at Walmart (OUR Walmart). Watkines and Sparks helped supporters on the call develop plans for a big day of action on Black Friday, and reminded people of faith and economic justice advocates that every action on Black Friday is remarkably important to the Walmart associates standing up to Walmart's executives and their managers for a voice.

"We’re being heard, and we’re making a lot of noise around here. Our focus is to educate the associates and the community about Walmart’s bullying," Mary Watkines said.

On Black Friday, faith leaders and community supporters all around the country will work to bring attention to the culture of intimidation and retaliation at Walmart stores. We'll come together in our neighborhoods and towns and urge Walmart to be a better employer: pay workers a fair wage, create safe working conditions and treat workers with dignity and respect they deserve.

"What the community can do is continue to support us and be there at the actions because then Walmart sees that it's not just the associates asking, but the community is in with us and sees what they’re doing is not right," Watkines said.

Janet Sparks told callers yesterday that she was praying for a leader to step up and confront Walmart's immoral practices at its stores. She said she had no idea that she would be that worker! OUR Walmart leaders are planning to keep urging Walmart to do what is right, and your support means the world to her and other workers.

"Thanks so much for supporting Walmart employees, so many are so afraid to step forward and join this great organization. They’re afraid of losing their job. They’re afraid of being retaliated against. The list is endless," Sparks said to callers. "When community goes out and supports us, they know someone else believes what they’re silently holding inside. It shows other people are caring about them. It just might be the step that helps them come forward and join this organization."

Can you show your support to Walmart workers like Janet and Mary on Black Friday? As a person of faith, you can remind Walmart managers and executives that treating workers fairly, paying living wages, providing safe work environments free of intimidation is the right thing to do.

Click here to register a visit to a Walmart store. You can host an action or prayer vigil, or you and a friend or neighbor can drop off a letter supporting workers to the store manager!