Saturday, November 24, 2012
The pulse of the WalMart Associates
Worcester Unemployment Action Group members turned out for the demonstrations at the Northborough, Worcester and N. Oxford WalMarts yesterday. Why is that our issue? Because those are the kind of jobs we're being pushed into! A WalMart future, which is to say no future at all!
Just last week WalMart announced a 34% increase in the employee contribution to health care - on top of a 40% increase last year - and an increase in hours required to be eligible to 30/week. Not that many WalMart workers average 30 hours a week. Workers' shifts get changed without notice, so they can't hold another job or keep up with other responsibilities - and they have no right to refuse. Many are on food stamps, subsidized housing and Commonwealth Care. Now all but the minority of "full time workers" will be depending on the taxpayers for health care!
One of the posters (in the T&G comments) said the workers should go back to school and get a degree if they want something better. But our educated guess is that many of the workers at WalMart have had successful careers and many have college degrees or more! Now they've been thrown on the slag heap, and that slag heap looks like ... WalMart!
We were warmly greeted by WalMart workers wherever we went, many thanked us and some even cheered! Apparently none of the "associates" were reporting us to the manager until we started chanting. At one store we were just planning to deliver a letter to the manager but he was taking his time showing up - apparently no one had told him he had a problem! He showed up quick enough when we started chanting!
Even the ones ordering us out of the store mostly were friendly and almost apologetic.
My guess is that the only thing keeping all 1.4 million WalMart workers from walking off the job is fear. But you can only push people so far before they reach the point where they feel they just have to take a stand and fight back. That moment could be almost at hand.