Published September 05, 2013
A Wal-Mart activist group is saying that the New York Police Dept. has arrested three Wal-Mart (WMT) protesters in midtown New York today.
The arrests came amid a nationwide protest, says Making Change at Wal-Mart, a coalition of Wal-Mart worker activists. The group says protests will be rolling out throughout the day in 15 cities from coast to coast, including Los Angeles, Sacramento, Chicago, Boston, Dallas, Miami and New York. The demonstrators are demanding a hike in pay at the nation’s biggest retailer to a minimum $25,000 annually, and the reversal of disciplinary actions allegedly filed against 80 workers due to their involvement in Wal-Mart protests last Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving.
Wal-Mart tells FOX Business that the average pay of its workers already is $25,000 annually, that its workers get benefits, unlike other retailers, and that the protests are “a handful of union-orchestrated media stunts, made of up of primarily union members and activists.” For its full response, see bottom.
The NYPD did not return calls for comment on the matter.
The Wal-Mart protests come on the heels of last week’s protests against fast-food chains, including McDonald’s and Burger King, where worker groups also demanded a hike in pay.
Activist groups cite Wal-Mart profit data -- the company makes about $448 billion in annual revenues and $15.8 billion in annual profits -- plus data that purports to show numerous Wal-Mart workers must get government benefits to supplement their low income.
Wal-Mart long has been the focus of unions, who have sought to unionize its 1.3 million U.S. workers. Doing so would let unions like the AFL-CIO avoid having to make the recent, extraordinary push to unionize nonprofits like the NAACP or the Sierra Club.
The problem for workers is, the poor economic recovery has forced workers, many of whom are their family’s chief breadwinners, to accept low-paying jobs as full-time work, when much of these jobs are meant to be part-time positions or to supplement a spouse’s income.
City officials in places like Washington, D.C. have also blocked the retailer’s efforts to build stores, via “living wage” laws. Residents and other city officials in D.C. have argued in favor of Wal-Mart stores there, as Wal-Mart stores often become anchor stores for other retailers, and create economic growth and jobs. Poor residents of D.C. also have been quoted in the media as being in favor of Wal-Mart stores, as they can buy groceries and other goods much more cheaply there. In addition, workers face the threat of technology, where companies can replace positions with self-checkout or food ordering kiosks. If unionization does occur, workers would typically have to pay dues out of their wages.
Wal-Mart tells FOX Business that it “will continue to serve our customers in over 4,600 locations. A handful of union orchestrated media stunts, made of up of primarily union members and activists, don’t represent the views of the vast majority of the 1.3 million associates who do work for Wal-Mart.”
A Wal-Mart official also tells FOX Business in an emailed statement that: