The Walmart employees who walked out of their store in Lancaster Texas on June 1 were met by enthusiastic supporters from Jobs with Justice, Workers Defense Project, Texas Organizing Project, United Auto Workers, Machinists, United Food and Commercial Workers, Communications Workers, Teamsters, three Methodist Ministers, and a crowd waving signs and raising the store's roof with chants.
"Stand Up, Live Better!" we shouted while the store manager and police figured out how to herd us out of the store. "We Are the 99%!" we yelled as we left. We then held a rally on the public access outside the store. Lots of people had green Walmart shirts. Most had some kind of a sign. All of us were clapping and yelling.
State Representative Roberto Alonzo and Reverend Doctor Joerg Rieger were among those who addressed us. Alonzo urged us to keep up the right. Rieger explained the clear moral and religious basis for our fight. He said that Jesus Christ, a carpenter by trade, clearly favored the downtrodden and not the wealthy exploiters.
Rosemarie, Helen, and Annika Rieger signed up people for ongoing support of the Walmart organizing drive. They also distributed leaflets explaining that more actions for Friday, June 7, are already in the planning stage. Jobs with Justice will work with the United Auto Workers on at least three actions at different stores that day.
At 9 that morning, Rosemarie Rieger was the guest speaker on the "Workers Beat" program on KNON radio, 89.3 FM in Dallas. She urged people to join the ongoing fight to organize Walmart, not only to help the employees there, but to raise everybody's wages and benefits. The "Walmart model" of low pay, skimpy benefits, and insufficient working hours is being adopted everywhere, Rieger said.
Rieger also decried Walmart's refusal to take a stand on worker safety in Bengladesh, where unsafe working conditions continue. A description of this scandal is on the AFL-CIO's blog at http://www.aflcio.org/Blog/Global-Action/Walmart-Gap-Refuse-to-Sign-Bangladesh-Safety-Pact. She made it clear that siding with the workers against mighty transnational corporations is the way to make positive social change.
As the June 1 rally completed, striking Walmart workers boarded their bus for Bentonville, Arkansas, where they will deliver our message to the stockholders meeting. The rest of us cheered them on!