Last week, Sharon of AfterGadget and Ability Maine asked to interview me after hearing of my current employment with Wal-mart, coinciding with the recent employee strikes rippling throughout the country. Delightfully, she has given me permission to cross-post the article here.
Please note that this post is very, very long. I am posting this under my Dear World series since, even though it’s not in the format of a letter like most of them are, it is still a form of speaking out directly to those who need to be held accountable – specifically, the Wal-mart corporation.
This post first appeared at Ability Maine. Crossposted here with permission.
Low wages, lack of health insurance, concern for elderly and injured coworkers paramount
By Sharon Wachsler
Static Nonsense* is a disabled blogger I’ve known for a year or two. We follow each other’s blogs and tweets. SN periodically tweets about problems at work, including disability-related issues, but it was not until I saw recent tweets like this one that I knew who SN’s employer was:
#letusorganize #ourwalmart RT @AfterGadget: RT@OccupyWallSt: Support the WalMart Black Friday Strike eepurl.com/rL9oP
With Walmart the biggest employer in the US (a staggering one percent of the US population works for Walmart) and with Black Friday as the biggest shopping day of the year, the upcoming Black Friday strike by Walmart employees around the country is a very big deal. [Update: Walmart has retaliated against strikers and is opening the store even earlier than usual – 8 PM Thanksgiving day.]
The issues at the heart of the strike – a living wage, safe working conditions, fair and respectful treatment, lack of affordable healthcare, consistent scheduling – are relevant to all. However, as I learned during this interview, disabled and elderly workers are particularly vulnerable to ill-treatment by the retail giant.
While the media focus on strikes and protests has not included Maine, there are 22 Walmarts in Maine, employing approximately 7500 Maine citizens. According to data collected by the Maine Department of Health and Human Services in 2005, Walmart has more employees on public assistance than any other Maine employer – even though it’s the state’s second-largest employer (the first is Hannaford). The study found that more than ten percent of the state’s Walmart employees rely on state assistance such as Medicaid, Food Stamps, and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, making the workers’ issues directly relevant to the Pine Tree State.
Thus, I was very excited to have a long chat online last night with SN about what it’s like to be a disabled employee of Walmart in Maine, and what SN hopes the strikes might accomplish.
Question: You’ve indicated that it’s important to you to maintain anonymity in part because of personal matters. Do you also have concerns about being identified as speaking about what it’s like to work at Walmart?
There is that, too. Unlike a lot of other states, Maine has a fairly small population and it’s not the most diverse of places. As such, situations as specific as mine – my specific set of disabilities – are a lot easier to identify. With such a low population, when you’re a part of a minority of any sort it becomes really obvious. I don’t fear specific retaliation such as being fired or anything, but I err on the side of caution anyway because given the company, it does still technically pose a risk.
My current job is on a shaky foundation, so I have to be careful not to rock that too much.
No Response to [FMLA] Medical Leave Request
Q: Why does it feel shaky?
I’m sort of hanging between professional warnings. Because of how much my conditions vary, there are days that I miss from work. I don’t remember the specific number of sick days that we’re allowed; I think it’s either three or six through a rolling period of six months. [During] winter or if one of my ribs gets shifted out of place, I can use up a lot more than that.
I applied for an intermittent medical leave [under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)] over a year ago specifically to cover that issue. But I never heard word back from either our store’s human resources department or from the head office. According to my boss, he doesn’t see anything of the sort on my file.
I had a coaching about my attendance on my last yearly evaluation, because I would call in [sick] on days where I felt I wasn’t in a good enough shape to do a decent job at work, or it was unsafe for me to do so. I was under the impression that my FMLA would have covered it; I only just found out that so far, it hasn’t, because we don’t even know if it’s gone through or not.
SW: “Coaching” is a Walmart euphemism for? . . .
A formal warning.
Q: You referred to having conditions that vary. . . .
My current diagnoses are fibromyalgia, body-wide juvenile onset polyarthritis, scoliosis, and schizotypal personality disorder. There are others that I deal with as well, but they’re not officially on record as a diagnosed condition, such as my joint hypermobility and my chemical sensitivities. The hypermobility is what causes my ribs to shift in and out of place periodically, which can leave me in quite a bit of pain for several days, especially since my job is manual labor.
The arthritis and fibromyalgia can flare with various environmental factors like the weather and rainy or snowy seasons. So yeah, they fluctuate a lot. Some things can be predicted, like if I pay attention to the weather, but other contributing factors, such as stress, can’t really be predicted as easily. Unless it’s the Christmas season and you work retail. That you can pretty much guarantee is stressful!
Q: You applied for intermittent leave under the FMLA to allow more sick days during a flare? And your employer never responded. Is that right?
Yes. This happened around the same time that I submitted my accommodation requests to the head office [for reasonable accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act]. I heard back about the accommodations, but never about the intermittent leave.
The specific accommodations I requested, during March 2011, was a lifting restriction of 10 pounds – to avoid making my ribs shift and causing injury, being exempt from register duty in order to avoid joint injuries, and not being scheduled for shifts longer than six hours.
Missing Stools, Removing Benches; the Stress of Phone Calls
Q: Were the accommodations granted?
I was transferred to a different job position, and I now have access to a stool during shifts where I can sit down and rest for up to 20 minutes per hour. The job requirements of the position I’m in now states I’m only expected to lift up to 10 pounds on a regular basis, and since I now work in what’s called a service area, I can no longer be requested to run register when the store is busy.
Service area means I work in a location where I am expected to be present at all times in order to assist customers that need the service of that area. So places like the jewelry counter, the deli and bakery, and Tire Lube Express. I work in the fitting room and answer the phone for the entire store.
Q: I’m interested that you are allowed a stool because I read a post about problems disabled Walmart employees face. It says, “All chairs and stools have been removed from all Wal-Mart sales floors to keep employees from sitting while in view of customers,” including in cases where injured or elderly employees have said they need to sit sometimes to be able to work their whole shift.
That standing on the sales floor policy is real. People can get in big trouble for sitting down if they don’t have ADA accommodations. It’s also why I’m only “allowed” [to sit] 20 minutes per hour.
Q: I’d guess that a lot of people don’t know that they can request a reasonable accommodation, such as a stool. Has that been your experience?
Yep, took me this long even though I’ve been a cane user since 2007. We do have some [associates] that use [accommodations] but not many. Though I have noticed that we don’t have enough stools to go around. Sometimes mine goes MIA. My store is pretty lenient on the [sitting issue], though that may change. Our new store manager wants to take the fitting room’s bench away because our elderly associates sit down on it. And three of us have stools! His line of thinking is so ridiculous.
Q: In other ways, does this new position you were transferred to work for you?
It’s easier on me physically at times, since I don’t have to lift boxes or heavier merchandise like strollers. Dealing with smaller items like bras and their straps can be hard for my hands though. And because I also sort items that have been returned, I’m also frequently exposed to clothing washed with fragranced laundry products.
The stress of the phone calls can be really terrible, though. Since I transferred to this position, there have been days where I didn’t go to work because I knew I couldn’t mentally handle it. We get some rather nasty calls, especially in high traffic seasons like Christmas. People get upset because they all want to reach the same department, on multiple lines, and [the people in each department] can only answer one [call] at a time.
I’m frequently the buffer zone for callers’ mistreatment since I’m the first person they speak to – or the only person, if the call isn’t being answered by a particular department and it loops back to me. And then there are instances where even management doesn’t want to answer a phone call – even when it’s part of their job – and I’m left trying to defuse the situation, with little training to do so.
Retail is rough. A lot of customers treat us like cattle. Much like management frequently does. It’s usually one or the other.
Older and Injured Workers Required to Unload Trucks
Q: How do you feel treated like cattle?
There are times where associates get pulled to do different jobs that they’re not even trained for. For example, when trucks of merchandise come in. On several occasions, management has pulled associates from my department to help unload the merchandise from the trucks. I’m exempt from it since I’m in a service area, but I’ve done it before when I was a cashier, and I’ve worked in warehouses before. It is not an easy thing to do, and it can be very intense on the body. Several of our associates are elderly, in their 50s or even 60s and higher. I remember one instance where a 60-something woman injured her shoulder pulling a truck. She developed bursitis from it. When a manager asked her to do it again, she pointed out that she couldn’t; she was dealing with a shoulder injury. They claimed that since it wasn’t officially on record as a limitation, it didn’t matter.
Warehouse workers have specific safety regulations, such as encouraging the use of back braces and proper lifting, much of which we do not have to do in our current positions, so we don’t have access to those braces and the like. I have a back brace, but it’s a personal, so I’m an exception.
Q: Would you like your fellow associates’ health and safety needs to be taken into consideration by your employer?
Oh gods yes. We have another associate with a knee injury. I heard at one point that they made her pull a truck too, even though she’s on accommodations like I am. I think the only reason why they haven’t been able to make me do it is because I’m in a service area. That is my one protection
Another example [of workplace safety problems] is when [I was working as] a cashier. After I got my ribs adjusted I had numbness and poor movement in the entire right half of my body and could barely use my arm or hand. They made me run register anyway, with one arm, because I didn’t have a note.
It frequently feels like our health is supposed to be our responsibility alone, and that their concerns about it are simply lip service. Our training includes how precious [our health] supposed to be – about proper handling of chemicals or spills that include things like bodily fluids – but anything past that training doesn’t seem to matter.
Desire for Communication and Follow-Through
Q: If there was support for you and your fellow associates, what would it look like? How would you like things to be?
Encouragement for intercommunication would be nice. We have an open door policy, but that only goes so far. I remember one time I tried to report an incident of associates making abuse jokes in the break room, and I asked for sensitivity training. I got in the door fine, but nothing happened after that point.
Managers should be more willing to work with individuals or groups to address their concerns and needs. It doesn’t help that some of our managers appear to have a high turnover rate, like my department. Since I started there, we have had three different assistant managers, two zone managers and at least two department managers. People aren’t really there long enough to establish a trusting relationship, which is what you really need when you’re dealing with a management system. And some that have been there for a while feel like they’ve become callous over the years, or just aloof.
I don’t know if the turnover rate is the same in other departments or not. I suspect that ours is because our department covers so many different sections under one heading – Mens, Boys, Girls, Infants, Ladies, Ladies Accessories, Shoes, and Jewelry. The others are much smaller. Ours appears to be very stressful and chaotic to maintain, and there’s a lot of drama between associates.
Q: So your experience is that the door is open, but then after you’ve gone through the door, what? Alice disappears down the rabbit hole?
Exactly. It varies so much between managers, though. My current boss isn’t too bad, though sometimes it’s hard to tell if what he says is company policy or not. With others, it’s like they’re sitting there, nodding and listening, but it’s just going in one ear and out the other. And frequently they contradict each other. One manager will say they’re allowed to do something, while another will say they’re not.
Like the manager that pulls our associates for trucks – our boss insists that [the other manager] is not allowed to take our associates like that, but she does it anyway. No one stops her. I tell the associates to hide when she goes calling for them, praying that she doesn’t come hunting us down. . . .
Encouraged to Quit Due to Disabilities
Q: How long have you worked at Walmart?
Several years, off and on. This is my third time working at this particular store. I started shortly after high school, before I went to college for the first time, so that was two or three months there. A second time before I moved to New York, after my warehouse job, I think that was another year. And this time I started in July 2010.
The first two times I worked [at Walmart], it wasn’t that bad. But that was before I [brought up] my disabilities with them because at the time, [my disabilities] weren’t causing me many issues, so I didn’t want to expose myself to trouble when I didn’t have to. Though that is when that one arm thing happened.
It was the third time, this current time around, that things started getting messy because of how much my illnesses have been affecting my life overall. That’s when I started speaking out more about it. That’s when mistreatment started to become more clear; I could see how it was happening to people around me just as it was happening to me.
Q: Let’s talk about some examples. You tweeted this on November 1:
…the lowest number of hours i can work per week is 16. my boss suggested that i “leave until [i] feel better.” #walmart #disability
What’s the story here? What did he mean? I’m particularly curious because you requested leave under FMLA and got no response.
He knows that the winter season makes my conditions flare more in comparison to other seasons. That’s one of the reasons why I was trying to get my hours reduced, especially since I’m attending school at the same time, which just makes things even harder and more stressful. So he said that I could leave to take a break until I felt healthy enough to work again. He also said that I’d be leaving on a good note, suggesting I’d be able to return without issue, but with the attendance issue that could change.
I’m just flabbergasted that his first response was telling me to quit. What kind of boss says that to someone that’s been dedicated about working?!
He also said that they would try to get me a copy of the writing that said that requirement, because I explicitly asked for it because no one else had ever mentioned it as a possibility before. Haven’t seen any such papers.
Q: The requirement/papers you’re referring to is the supposed requirement that you have to work 16 or more hours, even though you have a reasonable accommodation granted that you work 12 hours a week max?
Correct. Though the accommodations don’t include the 12 hour restriction. That came from an hourly availability request that doesn’t link to the ADA. I didn’t ask for the 12 hour a week restriction until much later, July of this year, due to a really bad Fibro flare. The request did come from my doctor.
And when I spoke to my immediate supervisor, our department manager, about my schedule not having any hours for the next two weeks and mentioned the 16 hours thing . . . he looked surprised as hell, as if he had never heard of such a limit.
Q: Oh yes. I saw your three tweets about the scheduling weirdness on November 12:
…ok. something’s wrong. two weeks in a row and i don’t have any hours scheduled for work. what the fuck is going on?
i expected the one week to be a fluke. but two? back to back?
if this is ‘punishment’ for asking for limited hours for the sake of my health and education, i’m going to be pissed right the hell off.
That was also the same day that I watched the system bring up that I had a weekly restriction of 12 hours – the same restriction I had been trying to get for months. It didn’t bring any protest about being under 16. Just that we were trying to schedule me for more than 12.
After speaking with my supervisor about the lack of hours, I don’t think it was [retaliation], no.
Q: So, your boss – the guy who suggested you quit – is that a different person than your immediate supervisor/department manager?
Correct. For some reason, we have an oddly high number of management positions. That’s also something that’s bothered me. There are so many different kinds of “managers” that one can go to, and sometimes it’s hard to tell who you’re supposed to be speaking to, or even what their position is. Some of the ones I can think of off the top of my head are Customer Service Managers, Department Managers, Assistant Managers, Zone Managers, Shift Managers, Co-Managers, and the Store Manager It’s even more frustrating when one manager says that another manager can take care of something, but they can’t, or they say they can’t.
It’s especially confusing when a customer says they want to speak to management, and they don’t understand why you ask what they’re inquiring about so you can get the right manager. Honestly, I agree with them, I don’t know why we have so many either! When people are like, “I just want a manager,” we can’t explain that we don’t have just managers.
Stymied in Efforts to Provide Quality Customer Care
Q: You’ve mentioned being “dedicated” to your job and wanting to do right by the customers. I get a feeling that you take pride in providing good customer service. Do you feel frustrated when you’re not able to do that?
Very much so. I enjoy being able to help people, even if it’s just helping them find something. If I can do something to make a person’s life easier for them, even just something small, that’s enough for me. It’s what drives me about a lot of things, including activism and even just being friends with people.
But when I have to constantly jump flaming hoops, or when it seems like those hoops are constantly moving when I’m trying to reach a goal, it frustrates both me and the person I’m trying to help. I can’t get them access to the things that they need on the other side, and it makes me feel sad inside, quite deeply.
I feel like I would enjoy my job a lot more if the system I was working in didn’t feel so stilted and broken.
Q: Is that one of the reasons you have returned to work for Walmart – to provide good customer services?
That’s part of why I’ve returned there, yeah. The other part is that around here, it seems like they’re the only place that will hire me. Be it due to the economy or disability [discrimination]. A lot of customers don’t seem to realize that there are some of us who legitimately want to help them. It’s hard to know what they think in terms of my specific situation, since my job is pretty much the pillar point of giving them access to one department or another, or management. I don’t know if they consider it to be a failing on my part (though sometimes that becomes pretty clear) or if they think the failure is on the side I’m trying to reach.
It’s easier for them to tell the struggles when they’re physically there with me, because they can see me trying to get a hold of the managers. When you’re on hold on the phone though, you can’t see that.
The fact that I work nights makes it even harder. There’s a lot less people working, then. So you can’t reach [managers] as easily.
As someone who works the phones, I will admit right off that I don’t even like calling our store. It’s terrible. Even when we really try, sometimes we have to redirect calls five times to get through, or customers will be waiting half an hour.
And part of it is because departments seem to be poorly managed and disconnected – even with the number of managers we have.
Q: You want to help people and make their experience pleasant and productive, and yet you know that they likely will not experience that.
Exactly. It’s terrible. There have been a few instances where it felt like I was really able to make a difference, but they’re few and far between.
There was this one customer I had, who was completely colorblind. He asked me which shirt out of two looked best on him and seemed to match his clothes, since he couldn’t differentiate between the two of them since they were the same style. After that, I helped him find a matching tie of a close enough shade. That was pretty hard; we didn’t have many anywhere close to that color, but we managed to pull it off. That made him really happy.
I’ve had other customers that have difficulties with wearing particular bras. One lady, I helped her find a bra that didn’t contain any metal and opened from the front instead of the back, because she was having an MRI and a chest operation done. She needed something that wouldn’t be very tight but still provide a decent level of support. Not something I could have easily done, seeing as I can’t even wear them! But we managed to find something in the sports bras that she was satisfied with. I’ve also helped customers come up with innovative costume ideas, when they can’t find something they want in the Halloween section or it’s out of season by putting things together from other departments.
Q: It sounds like some of your most satisfying work experiences have been connecting with customers with disabilities or health issues — people who don’t “fit the mold” — and with getting creative, in general.
Pretty much. I’m one of those customers myself, and very few people “get” that sort of situation. So it makes me feel better to let them know that hey, there are some of us that do get it . . . and we can help out in any way we can.
But yeah, disabilities are a major focal point of my life. Even the tiniest of things winds up revolving around them. They’re always a factor in daily life, so it just comes naturally. And it helps to show people that they’re not alone, especially in an area that is this rural.
Low Pay, Lack of Insurance, Rationing Medication
Q: A big issue for both people with disabilities and for Walmart workers is health care, which is also related to pay. These are central issues in the strikes. A couple of weeks ago, you tweeted this:
i found out that i am indeed eligible for medical care through my employer #walmart, with one problem…
it would take 3/4s of my annual salary just to pay the deductible. not kidding, that’s how little i earn. it’s a $3,000 deductible. #walmart
otherwise, my immediate supervisor and i cracked up constantly about the application, bc it fails to consider how sick ppl like me are.
the options for opting out ranged from being completely healthy & mentally secure, putting money elsewhere [vainly] and already having care
but not once for ‘i can’t afford this shit, i work for you! how would i be able to afford it?!’
one of those instances where even the health reform law doesn’t help me by forcing employers to provide healthcare. too sick, too poor.
maybe if the companies that people like me worked for weren’t such corporate leeches…
Q: Care to elaborate?
Yeah, the health care set up is atrocious. I’ve been “eligible” for it for the past two years – though the associate working in HR [continues to] insist otherwise, quite rudely. I applied for Mainecare under the premise of disability and was denied earlier this month. They claimed that I can still do “light work.” As if being able to work somehow means I don’t need health care, or that my health doesn’t directly impact my ability to work. On our way back to the HR room to deal with the open enrollment, my supervisor and I were commenting on how pointless it is, because most of us are already on Mainecare and that does a better job of covering things and you don’t have to pay for it. Even the healthy people prefer Mainecare over the Walmart insurance.
I don’t know what the system structure is like, though I’ve heard that the places that actually accept the insurance are slim and far between. I wager that most of my current doctors, who I wouldn’t give up – period – wouldn’t accept it even though they accept Mainecare.
But honestly, offering us health care with a deductible that costs nearly as much as our annual wages is ridiculous. If they’re going to offer us health care with that high of a deductible, they need to pay us more to accommodate for it. We barely make enough to eat and keep roofs over our heads, let alone be able to see a doctor.
I make $8.50 an hour. With my number of hours, I make maybe $600-700 a month. That’s enough to pay rent and maybe food, depending on the kind you buy, and never taking dietary needs for IBS [irritable bowel syndrome] or other conditions into consideration. There’s nothing left for medical care.
Q: So you are uninsured right now because you were denied Mainecare?
Correct. Right now I have to pay everything out of pocket. Only reason I’m managing currently is because I have pain meds stashed from a previous remaining refill, before I ran out. Otherwise I have to see my doctor to get a new one. The last time I refilled it, I had to use one of those federal savings programs. The only reason I knew of them is because my fiancé works in pharmacy and told me. It dropped my med price of over $200 to around $47 for that month.
Since then, I’m rationing them.
Q: Do you worry about what will happen if you get a really bad flare and run out? That always terrified me when I was getting too few and too ineffective pain meds. It felt like walking a tightrope.
Absolutely. It’s why I have money stashed in case of emergencies, because I know that it can always happen. I spent a large portion of my life while sick without adequate care or insurance, so I learned the hard way. I’m very lucky that I can live with my parents right now, so I don’t have to pay rent or utility bills, though lately I do have to worry about food.
The refill that I have was for a rather large number of pain meds, 120 of them, and I don’t always need to take them on a daily basis. They’re from my really bad flare in July. So that helps, it’s better than when I had to ration 15 throughout an entire year.
But right now my ribs are out again, and I will likely have to pay out of pocket for [treatment]. It’s affecting my work and means I have to take more meds. I’m not looking forward to winter. And without access to my doctors unless I pay out of pocket, I cannot apply for medical leave until I recover. So like my boss said, if it gets bad and I’m uninsured, I really would have to quit.
Isolation, Rural Location Make Organizing Difficult
Q: Are you involved in the strikes or protests?
I haven’t been able to participate much in things like the strikes or protests, but I’ve still been trying to boost the signals of the cries of others. As far as I am aware, there is nothing organizing in my area. When I searched on the organization websites for any strikes or protests in the area near me, nothing came up. No one seems to talk about it at work at all, either. At least, not that I’ve heard.
Our area is fairly rural in comparison to the larger cities. Not only that, but our largest city is over an hour’s drive away. I commute to work about half an hour as it is.
Q: You mentioned in an email to me feeling isolated by being rural.
Very much so. There’s very little up here in terms of support for just about anything. Just finding out about the fibromyalgia support group that was in the neighboring towns was a big deal. I expected to have to drive hours [to find] one, or be [unable to find one] in general.
So that’s the sort of thing that makes organization really hard for something like the Walmart strikes, especially if you deal with other boundaries due to being disabled. There’s a lot of folks that can’t go much of anywhere because the transportation they have access to will only take them out twice a week [which just covers] grocery shopping. I’m lucky in that I have a car. A lot of people don’t, and if I didn’t, I’d be in poor shape too because the city bus system doesn’t reach out this far.
Q: Let’s talk about the planned strikes and walkouts going on now and later this week. A lot of the issues you’ve brought up are part of the demands made by associates at the OUR Walmart page – wanting respectful treatment from manager, affordable health insurance, living wages, and supporting associates in providing the customer service that Walmart is supposed to be founded upon. What you think of the Declaration for Respect created and circulated by Walmart workers? Did you sign it?
I definitely signed, and I encourage other people to sign. I’ve pushed it on Twitter and among those close to me that know of my struggles with the company, like my fiancé. I would participate in a strike if there were one around here and if it wasn’t such a small area [where] people are more easily identifiable. If someone had started something to talk about it when I was looking for such groups, I probably would have contributed. But I didn’t find anything for Maine. Around here, when it comes to news issues, it frequently feels like things that happen “out there” instead of here. Like such things don’t happen in this state.
But I also support people that can’t strike because they worry about the stability of their jobs, which would be just as much of a concern for me, or stability with their coworkers that may not agree. The latter is especially true around here, when it seems like no one talks about it or when you do bring up the strikes at work, people don’t seem to care. I had to sign [the declaration] anonymously because of how specific my [disability] situation is.
As a passing comment, [I’ve asked] people what they think of it – usually the coworkers in my department that I have a good relationship with, not [relationships] that [are] easily shaken. [I asked] one person, and she seemed rather indifferent to the whole thing. Bringing such things up at work can be really risky. With so many managers, and ones that are continuously walking through the store to keep tabs on things, you have to be careful of what you are talking about, with whom and why. But it also sort of reflects the lack of push-back against our management in general. People will have individual issues with [management], but they won’t organize to talk about it. At least, not here.
Q: It sounds like you think your fellow associates don’t see their individual problems with management as being part of a larger?
Pretty much. Like, a few years ago even I wouldn’t have realized that my issues were part of the overall problem.
Q: How did that change?
Social push-back throughout the country. Hearing about the strikes tipped me off, just as hearing about how frequently such organizations seem to take advantage of or somehow wrong folks with disabilities did. Making myself more aware of social issues.
“Listen to Us, Provide Moral Support”
Q: Final question: What three things would you like everyone who reads this article to do to support Walmart workers like you?
Signing the petition is a big step, since it’ll show that we’re not just people whining about things, that others support us and understand that our needs are legit and a part of basic human rights.
If someone you know works for Walmart and they talk or complain about something that happened that reflects on such issues, or mistreatment toward them, listen to them. Let them know that you’re listening, and provide them moral support.
If you can, spread the word – don’t let this fall into isolation, because if it does, change will never happen. Companies like this are stubborn and need to be really shaken for them to get the picture. They need to be held accountable, and the only way we can do that is by making the most noise we possibly can.
Q: Those are three very clear, very easy, doable requests**. I noticed you didn’t mention the strike and boycott? Do you think there’s any chance of that happening in your area?
I’d love it if they boycotted, and I would [boycott, too] if it weren’t for the fact that it’s one of the cheapest stores around here and they only pay me enough to buy their products! The chances of [a boycott] happening though are pretty slim. I certainly get enough calls about when Black Friday or the deals start to suggest that [people are not going to boycott].
Q: Well, here’s to hoping!
Q: Thank you so much for your time! This was fun, and I learned a lot.
You too. Thank you very much for giving me the chance to speak out about this.
*Static Nonsense is an avatar – the name that the person I interviewed uses online.
**Additional ways to support Walmart workers are to boycott the store during the strikes and protests, making donations to feed the workers who are striking this week, or any of these very simple actions: sign a solidarity statement with Walmart workers, sign a petition asking Walmart to allow workers to spend Thanksgiving with their families, and sign a pledge to boycott on Thanksgiving and Black Friday.