Wal-Mart workers in 15 cities protest over minimum wage

Protesters in New York, Washington state are arrested as hundreds demonstrate around the country

Topics: Walmart, Wal-Mart, Retail, Protests, Strikes, Minimum wage, walkouts, National Labor Relations Board, The Labor Movement, Labor Rights, worker rights, , ,

Wal-Mart workers in 15 cities protest over minimum wageEmployee protesting in front of Walmart (Credit: AP/J Pat Carter)

Updated, 5 p.m. EDT: While, as Ned Resnikoff noted for MSNBC, protest actions have been somewhat “muted” in most partaking cities, the response from authorities has been severe. Twitter reports that arrests also took place by SWAT teams in Renton, Wash.:

Original post: In what has been advertised as the largest Wal-Mart protests since the retail giant was struck by a wave of strikes throughout its production line late last year, hundreds of Wal-Mart employees took part in demonstrations in 15 cities Thursday.

According to a press statement from organizers ahead of protests, the workers have been “emboldened by national attention on low-wage economics and Wal-Mart’s inaction, frustrations are building.” The release noted that acting on the back of the recent string of un-unionized fast-food worker strikes across the U.S., the Wal-Mart workers aimed to set a “new tone.”

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Alongside calls for minimum wage hikes, Thursday’s demonstrations are also in response to poor working conditions and employee complaints, as well as retaliation reportedly taken by Wal-Mart managers against worker attempts to organize. OurWalmart, a union-backed members group, claims it has filed more than 100 unfair labor practice charges against Wal-Mart with the National Labor Relations Board, including 20 illegal terminations and 80 disciplinary actions.

“Thursday’s actions will include a march in Los Angeles and a rally outside the Four Seasons hotel in San Francisco, where Marissa Mayer, Yahoo CEO and Walmart board member, has a penthouse apartment,” the Guardian noted.

An update from organizers on New York actions stated reported arrests:

Three current and illegally fired Walmart workers were just arrested in NY after being turned away from the offices of Walmart board of directors member Christopher Williams. They were arrested when the office refused to accept a petition signed by over 200K people demanding the company publicly commit to provide full-time work with a minimum salary of $25,000, reinstate workers who were fired for striking and agree to stop all retaliation against workers calling for better jobs.

Natasha Lennard
Natasha Lennard is an assistant news editor at Salon, covering non-electoral politics, general news and rabble-rousing. Follow her on Twitter @natashalennard, email nlennard@salon.com.

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