100 Walmart Protesters Reportedly Arrested In 15-City Strike [UPDATED]

Organizers and activists are calling for a minimum annual salary of $25,000 for full-time employees.

Mariya Pylayev/AOL
UPDATE September 6, 7:00 am: One hundred Walmart workers and activists in 11 cities were arrested Thursday as part of a wave of protests against the retail giant, OUR Walmart, the protest organizer, said in a release late Thursday. Thousands of workers and activists in 15 cities participated in the protests, the largest action against Walmart since Black Friday's protests, according to OUR Walmart, the organizer.

Three protesters -- one current Walmart worker, two former workers -- were arrested on charges of trespassing early Thursday after they tried to hand-deliver a petition to Walmart board member Christopher Williams in New York City. The petition calls for Walmart to offer full-time work with a minimum salary of $25,000 a year and reinstate those workers allegedly fired for their labor activism.

According to independent analysts and surveys by websites including Glassdoor, Walmart workers make an average of $8 to $9 an hour. The Bentonville, Ark.-based retailer says the average wage for the "majority" of its hourly employees is $12.78 an hour.

In addition to the petition drop-off, protesters are also planning to stage a protest at Marissa Mayer's apartment at the Four Seasons Hotel in San Francisco. (The Yahoo CEO sits on the board of Walmart.) Thursday's activism is the latest and largest after ten months of similar actions which began last November, when Walmart workers staged protests at roughly 1,000 stores to coincide with "Black Friday."

"It's very difficult to support your family on Walmart wages," recently fired Walmart worker Jovani Gomez told AOL Jobs. Gomez, who is 25 and whose girlfriend is pregnant, worked five years as a meat sales associate for Walmart in Lakewood, Calif., before he was let go. He says he was fired for participating in protests. "They start us at barely over minimum wage and so they lie when they say they are going to provide living wages." Gomez is taking part in Thursday's protest in Los Angeles.

The nationwide strike however is likely to be nothing more than "symbolic," according to Gary Chaison, a professor of industrial relations at Clark University. "You're not seeing two million workers joining the movement. Many are just happy to have their job." (The total size of the global Walmart workforce is 2.2 million workers.)

Walmart spokesman Kory Lundberg told AOL Jobs that Walmart is not threatened by the activism. "The protests have never actually been able to get more than a 100 associates at a protest, in spite of what organizers say. This is a union campaign made up of union members and activists."

Are Walmart workers content?
Walmart is pushing hard to marginalize protesters, stressing, as Lundberg notes, that one in four Walmart employees have worked for the company for ten years or more. The task of defending the working conditions at Walmart has even been taken on by Walmart CEO Mike Duke himself. Appearing late last month on CNBC, Duke said, "less than one percent of our associates make the minimum wage," before adding, "the vast majority of our associates are paid more than that." Indeed, Walmart says the average wage for "the majority of hourly associates," is $12.78 an hour, according to Lundberg. (There are roughly one million hourly workers at Walmart.)

Mariya Pylayev/AOL
But when asked why the company doesn't share the average wage for all its 2.2 million Walmart workers, Lundberg told AOL Jobs, "that is not a number we release." Three separate outside organizations however have done studies on average pay for all Walmart workers, and all three report figures that range from $8.81 to $9.64 (Payscale.com).

Walmart workers and new labor
The day of action was a follow-up to last November's Black Friday strike, which marked the first time Walmart workers rallied for greater rights in a coordinated action across the country. Previously, workers had only organized at single store locations. And as AOL Jobs reported, 1,000 Walmart stores were targeted.

"The labor movement is trying to recast itself as the heir to the civil rights movements that speaks to working families in general, so as to not just be a force at the bargaining table," Chaison said. "If it doesn't succeed in trying to become a political force, unions will be seen as a force whose time has come and gone."

Vine credit: Mariya Pylayev/AOL

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If you want to protest at store 2167 in Exton PA. Ask the people that work there what they think of Walmart. The store is only 11 years old but they have had 8 store mgrs in there in that time. Just last month 2 ast mgrs walked out, 5 zone mgrs have put in for other stores, and fired the lead dept mgr when he was using the "Open door pol". Walmart was great when Sam was alive. But after he died walmart has went down big time.

October 12 2013 at 3:58 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

If you get more, prices rise....then people will shop elsewhere. Then Walmart would have to layoff and close stores.....be careful what you wish for. You better have the seniority, if you wish that.

October 08 2013 at 1:44 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Davidi's comment

Poverty mentality Davidi.

October 19 2013 at 10:26 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

We don't want them to get more, cause then Walmart would be expensive....and I would not get the good deals.

Same as working for the Airlines....if they get too much, the tickets would be sky high...then I would not fly.

Take the easy job it's less stress. Be satisfied. The consumer don't want you getting more if it's going to cost more for them.

October 08 2013 at 1:40 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Davidi's comment

Yes David,
And while employees of a certain airline take a 30 percent pay cut ( to keep the cost of your ticket down of course), the CEOs of said airline get multi million dollar bonuses.
Only in America can one bankrupt what was once the largest airline in the world, freeze employee pensions, and expect a 20 MILLION dollar paycheck for it.
Keep that poverty mentality Davidi.
Sounds like you enjoy slavery.

October 19 2013 at 10:38 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

it bad

September 09 2013 at 1:01 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

No one forces you to work for Walmart, its your choice to accept employment there. If you don't like what your getting paid, while employed there go look for something else, and if you think there isnt something else out there then make change in your career, by complaining about your salary does nothing but piss people off, when you take action and do something about it like accept new employment elsewhere, change your career, or increase your education to make yourself more competitive does everything. Knowledge always pays more than labor itself, a company rather invest more in what you know and can bring to them than what you can physically do for them. Usually the more you make, the less you physically do and the more knowledge you share.

September 08 2013 at 12:07 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
Sam & Joyce

they all protest wages but walk right by the self serve checkouts everyone of these help eliminate a job in 5 years most stores will have very few checkouts left there go these jobs no one seems to care bout lost jobs it is just high pay samiam

September 06 2013 at 10:49 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

You bunch of losers. You should be thankful to have a job paying even minimum wage, Thousands would gladly go to work for Walmart just to have a job. If I was a manager of Wal-mart I would fire any person who took place in any strike at a wal-mart store. Who wants to have somebody working for them - who dosen't want to be there?
I met Sam Walton in Round Rock Texas back in 1984, and congratulsted him for his vision to have the worlds largest retailer. He was a very principled man and it has shown through th years that the company continues to expand. They have NO employees. They are all ASSOCIATTES! He was a great man and his company is still a great place to be a part of. Congratulations for arresting all the trouble makers!

September 06 2013 at 10:42 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Raymond's comment

WOW Raymond,
You are one informed, intelligent human.
I have some beautiful, arid acreage for sale in the middle of the Indian Ocean.
You seem like just the person who would be interested in it.

October 19 2013 at 10:45 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

While I agree anything less than 10.00 an hour would be hard to live on, how could you raise the minimum wage 3 to 5 dollars an hour, without raising the wages of all the other people who have worked for minimum wage, and have now gotten raises and promotions to a higher wage. How could I tell someone working for me at 12.00 or 15.00 an hour after 3 or 4 years, that suddenly my unskilled, uneducated new hires are going to be making as much as they are. All wages would have to increase, which would cause all cost to increase, which would cause all goods and services to increase. Suddenly, the minimum wage person is right back where they started, if not worse.

September 06 2013 at 10:30 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to daskon's comment
Trevor Allington

i agree with you 100% i have worked for walmart for 4 years now and i would so upset if i was told that a guy that i work that was a new hire would be makeing just as much as me.

September 07 2013 at 2:50 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply


September 06 2013 at 9:56 PM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply

Productivity has surged, but income and wages have stagnated for most Americans. If the median household income had kept pace with the economy since 1970, it would now be nearly $92,000, not $50,000.

September 06 2013 at 9:53 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

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