Occupy Falmouth Joins Walmart Protest
By: Michael C. Bailey
Shoppers hitting Walmart today to snag some Black Friday bargains should expect to see a different kind of greeter at the store’s doors.
Members of the Occupy Falmouth movement planned to participate in today’s national protest of the retail giant’s labor practices to raise awareness of the issue among holiday shoppers. The protest was scheduled to begin today at 10 AM.
Peter L. Waasdorp of Occupy Falmouth did not know how many members would be there today, but said an e-mail announcing the protest was sent out to the organization’s 200 supporters on Tuesday, the day after the group’s steering committee approved the protest.
“Given the holiday, I can’t predict our turnout, but I would be pleased if 10 to 20 came,” Mr. Waasdorp said, adding that this protest would be held in place of the group’s standard Saturday morning stand-out at the Falmouth Village Green.
“Walmart represents the worst example of corporate practices that take advantage of our most vulnerable workers,” said Sandra Faiman-Silva, who planned to attend the protest, “people who desperately need jobs, serve their employers faithfully, and put in a fair day’s labor, while they earn slightly above minimum wage, often work part-time, and receive no or inadequate benefits.”
Walmart represents the worst example of corporate practices that take advantage of our most vulnerable workers.
Dr. Faiman-Silva said Walmart’s wages amount to “corporate welfare” as many of their workers must rely on government safety net programs to meet their living expenses and “we, the taxpayers, pay for these forms of corporate welfare.”
Neither Mr. Waasdorp nor Russ Davis, executive director of the workers’ rights advocacy group Massachusetts Jobs with Justice—which spearheaded the call for local activist groups to organize protests in their communities—would comment on whether any Falmouth Walmart employees planned to join the protest.
Mr. Waasdorp said Occupy Falmouth hoped to hold the protest right in front of the store, but thought that scenario was “unlikely, I would think, as malls are private property and the laws on public access for free speech exercise seem ambiguous.”
He said the group will gather in front of the store and, if told to move, relocate the protest to the Falmouth Mall’s entrances.
OUR (Organization United for Respect) Walmart, a group of past and current Walmart employees, is behind the national initiative, which is pushing the Arkansas-based chain to offer workers a base wage of $13 per hour, make available health care benefits, and offer full-time positions whenever possible to those employees who want them.
Walmart workers make between $8.44 an hour and $9.55 an hour, according to Glassdoor.com, which tracks wages and salaries among various companies and industries. Walmart reported to USA Today back in June that its average hourly wage for full-time employees was $12.40.
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