Walmart Strike Supporters Speak Out at Kingstowne Store

Members of Making Change at Walmart handed out flyers at the Kingstowne Walmart and talked to employees and customers about the recent retail workers' strike.

Wednesday afternoon, a group of community leaders supported the ongoing Walmart workers’ strike by passing out leaflets to customers and employees at the Walmart at 5885 Kingstowne Blvd.

Beth Pointer, an organizer for Making Change at Walmart, led a small group who entered the Kingstowne store to raise awareness of the retaliation some Walmart associates say they have received for speaking out about better wages and benefits.

“We’ve done this at eight stores today,” Pointer said. “This is happening at about 250 stores and there are just as many workers who have walked off their jobs.”

Although a dozen cities have been affected by the first-ever retail workers’ strike from Walmart, Northern Virginia area stores have yet to have associates walk off the job.

Members of the group, including Pointer and Mike Wilson of D.C Jobs with Justice, a supporter of Respect D.C., passed out leaflets both inside and outside the store. Store managers and associates asked them to leave several times and a Walmart associate stood at the main door taking the flyers away from employees and customers as they entered.

The group moved on when an officer from Fairfax County Police Department asked them to leave.

Hard Work for $9.20 an Hour

An associate with the Kingstowne Walmart, who asked for his name to be withheld out of fear of losing his job, said he and his coworkers in the truck and loading department work really hard for $9.20 an hour.

“They expect much more out of us. They’re paying us $9.20 an hour and anywhere in the country, that type of manual labor — which is approximately the equivalent of doing ten gym workouts a day — is worth $15 an hour, union or non-union,” he said. “So we’re really underpaid.”

The associate said they can’t speak about their grievances to management. "Nobody speaks to management about money because that’s a dead end.”

The associate also said he doesn’t think the strikes that are happening in different cities will help the current situation.

“Walmart has an infinite supply of people that need work,” he said. “Our country as a whole has a very high unemployment rate. They get a lot of people every day that need to work, and I’m sure the way they look at it is, ‘Feel lucky that you have a job at all. And if you don’t want your job, we can find somebody to fill it tomorrow.’”

Although reportedly no Walmart associates in Northern Virginia have walked off their jobs, workers in Laurel, MD, started striking Tuesday. Barbara Elliott and a few of her coworkers walked off their jobs at Walmart store #1985 on 3549 Russett Green East.

“We’re just speaking out for retaliation [for standing up for our rights] and health insurance we receive,” said Elliott. “We’re also speaking out about the hours that have been taken from us and the respect we need.”

Elliott said she and her coworkers need to have their questions answered and need living wages.

“We need to be able to afford to live, and take our families on trips and to be able to pay our rent and buy groceries without having to go to get food stamps or Medicaid to help us,” she said.

Black Friday Deadline for Action

The associates are giving Walmart until Black Friday to meet their demands, including an opportunity to discuss their concerns with management and the end of alleged retaliations for speaking out. 

But David Tovar, the retailer's vice president of communications, told The Huffington Post Monday the unhappy strikers "aren't representative of our entire associate base." He also said Walmart has an "open door" policy and has a history of listening to the concerns of its associates. 

On Wednesday, hundreds of Walmart associates took their concerns directly to CEO Mike Duke at Walmart’s global corporate headquarters in Bentonville, AR.

During an 11:30 a.m. teleconference on Wednesday, striking Walmart workers from Los Angeles and Dallas discussed their demands and plans. 

Evelin Cruz, an associate for Walmart in Southern California, was one of the 70 Walmart employees who started the initial strike. 

“The reason I became a part of OUR Walmart because I heard a lot of my associates thatt I work with are having their hours cut. I’ve had my staff cut in half, and it is overwhelming to serve the customers and try to get their jobs done as Walmart associates,” Cruz said.

As a result, strike organizers hope Walmart executives will be more open-minded about improving the associates’ wages and healthcare in the future. 

“We will continue to come back if our demands aren’t met. We will be taking more action. It doesn’t stop here,” Harris said. “We don’t want to keep protesting and striking. It’s hard to go on strike and lose money, but at the same time it’s a small price to pay when you want to make change.”

FFX County Resident October 11, 2012 at 11:53 AM
I understand some of the issues with companies like Walmart, but with health costs soaring and economic slow down in this nation, what are companies like Walmart, Target, Giant, Safeway, Delta, and others supposed to do. In order to keep products on the shelves, and trucks on the raod, they have to decrease somewhere. Whether its employee wages, not hiring personnel, raising prices like most manufactures have already, or reducing hours, companies such as these will not survive, thus causing more dispair in this nation. Its a vicious cycle or "death sprial." In today's market, I would rather work for $9.20hr and have some medical benefits, than not have a job or receive a pink slip and have nothing at all. Plus, I'm sure everyone knows of the economic plight this nation is in, why label one company like Walmart and have "D.C. Jobs" involved in a Virginia store? Go hand out fliers in D.C. to the City Council members who have stolen business opportunities from the residences and small business owners. The scruffy looking guy with the beard handing out fliers needs to clean himself up and find a "real" job instead of pestering customers trying to spend a dollar and improve the economy. Hand out fliers in China, (sweat shop factory capital of the world).
Local Taxpayer October 11, 2012 at 12:18 PM
FFX County Resident said, "... Hand out fliers in China, (sweat shop factory capital of the world)." I'm glad you see the connection to the Chinese economy. One of the problems with Walmart is that they function very much as a major distribution channel for Chinese goods. Every dollar spent in Walmart strengthens the Chinese sweat-shop economy. Simultaneously, the dollar also strengthens the major stockholders and directors at Walmart (about a dozen people) and enriches these few people who have a combined Net Worth equal to the combined Net Worth of the bottom 40% of the US (about 120,000,000 people). So, do we really want to make China stronger and support 12 people who have as much as 120,000,000 regular folk? I think not. Walmart has to change their business model and it has to start with giving their employees a Living Wage.
chefgio1 October 11, 2012 at 08:51 PM
The community leaders along with these workers should be glad these workers have a job in the first place, If I were Walmart I would fire these strikers and find people who really need a job. and as far as these community leader have them arrested for trespassing. Free loading days are over.
maria October 13, 2012 at 12:38 AM
Hey, don't knock it,chefgio1 til you have walked in their shoes.Sounds as if you are unemployedI . After 20 years of military spouse retirement,came to wal-mart.I have worked both as management & non-management service for the company & still asked What would Jesus do? On any circumstance.You work like a Hebrew slave...clean toilets,roundup shopping carts under any weather,cashiering ,piercing baby ears, slice meats,decorate cakes,unload trucks,everything under the sun.Had my pay cut down but I am still in.We are not freeloader .Would love for you to come aboard Wal-mart. I don't think you would last 1 day. Oh! if you decide you want management, prepare yourself for a lot of driving.Paradise in Texas
kipweeks2 November 19, 2012 at 01:14 PM
I hope that WalMart fires every single worker that was supposed to show up Friday and chooses not to show up. Then Saturday at 9am, WalMart goes on tv and announces they are holding a massive "Putting America Back to Work" job fair to fill the spots of the idiots that chose to strike. Look, if they dont like their job - GET ANOTHER ONE. I love the WalMart in Kingstowne, I go there all the time. But lets be honest, the guy who helps me out in the grovery aisle, he could easily go work at 100 other stores in the area, there have to be 50 big box stores or grocery stores within 5 miles of that location. In this economy, maybe they should all just be happy to have jobs. And if my memory serves me, doesnt this happen every year? The union tries to scare us into thinking there is going to be a massive strike and basically nothing happens?


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