By: James Gordon
On June 4, workers, union organizers and community members came together outside a local Miami Walmart to protest low wages and unfair working conditions. The one-day strike was part of a greater national movement targeting Walmart’s notorious mistreatment of its employees. The one-day strike earlier this month was embraced by many major cities across the U.S., including Tampa, Chicago, Milwaukee, Minneapolis, Los Angeles and San Francisco according to CNN Money’s Patrick Sheridan. The demands of low-wage earning Walmart employees first captured national attention during the Black Friday strike in November of 2013. Their actions echo a growing national movement to raise the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 per hour as proposed by a bill backed by Obama. Walmart employees stand in solidarity with low-wage earning workers around the country, including workers in the fast food industry who have been very active in the fight to raise the federal minimum wage.
In this day and age of mass marketing, most consumers are more than familiar with Walmart’s signature slogan: “Save Money. Live Better.” However, if the recent protests are any indication, Walmart’s optimistic ideology does not seem to apply to its lower-level workers. With unfairly low wages, poor working conditions and rampant wage theft, Walmart promotes a general lack of respect for its lower-level workers. The small but passionate crowd of protestors gathered at the Miami protest earlier this month endured the rainy weather to voice their uncompromising demands for respect from the company they loyally serve. According to a report by CNN Money, a spokesperson for Walmart recently attributed the low worker turnout at many of these protests to the notion that the majority of Walmart workers are happy and content with current working conditions. The resonating counterargument at the Miami protest, however, was that many workers failed to support the protests out of fear of retaliation. A few of the Walmart employees present even claimed to have been fired or punished in the past as a result of participating in previous protests. With unfavorable working conditions and wages as low as their prices, Walmart is certainly not helping its employees to “live better.”