By Liisa Wale
Arizona Community Press | www.azcommunitypress.org
On Friday, November 23rd people came out to Walmart locations throughout the United States to support workers who had decided to stand up to the companies unfair labor practices. It has been reported that close to 100 stores have joined the strike along with solidarity actions at 1000 Walmart locations throughout United States. According to Corporate Action Network, “Together, we staged actions at over 1,000 Walmart stores in 47 states. As reported by major news networks including CNN, ABC, NBC, The Today Show, and many others, thousands of people showed up for Black Friday actions to support workers rights and fair wages.”
In Phoenix there were 5 known events throughout the Valley. Solidarity actions/pickets started as early as 7:30am and lasted throughout the day. Some of the locations included the Walmart Distribution Center in Buckeye, Christown Mall, and two Tempe locations. The distribution center was organized by Industrial Workers of the World. Supporters of the Christown action included United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW), the Greater Eastern Maricopa Democrats (GEM DEMS), Living United for Change in Arizona (LUCHA), Valley Unitarian Universalist congregation and the Worker Rights Center. People came out to help to draw attention to Walmart’s silencing of workers, dangerously low pay, unfair working conditions, and the fact that many of these workers had to be present at work on Thanksgiving evening.
At the distribution center in Buckeye IWW members and supporters stood across the street from the entrance where trucks were entering and exiting. There was support from both the truck drivers and drivers passing by with honks and thumbs up signals. Even though the amount of police presence was equal to the protesters in numbers they were at ease and allowed us to peacefully assemble.
In the afternoon people from the distribution center in Buckeye, Christown mall, and Elliott/Priest actions joined up at the Southern and Rural Walmart, which was organized by Occupy Phoenix. Unions members who were represented and came to stand in solidarity with Walmart workers included Phoenix IWW, AFSCME, and UFCW.
Members of Valley Unitarian Universalist congregation joined the rallies at both the Christown location and Southern location in Tempe. At the Christown location they entered Walmart and after some go around were able to deliver a letter to the manager that was written by Interfaith Worker Justice asking Walmart to provide better wages. At the Tempe location on Southern the group attempted to deliver another letter but were stopped by security in the parking lot. Rob Smith, of UU Chandler congregation, refused to leave until he was able to speak to a manager. The Tempe police gave him a warning for trespassing. The manager at the Tempe location never did come out to talk to the group.
Video of both the Buckeye and Tempe rallies by Dennis Gilman:
On November 23 in Tucson there was also a demonstration in solidarity with Walmart workers. This solidarity action was sponsored by Occupy Tucson, Jobs with Justice, and Salt of the Earth Labor College.
Video taken by Richard Boren:
Eduardo Placencio, with United Steelworkers Local 937 of Tucson Arizona, stated why it is so important to support the Walmart workers who were going on strike. “As a steelworker and as a union member it is very important for all workers to be united and to come together in solidarity to fight against corporate greed.”