This national campaign was organized by the United Food and Commercial Workers People's Campaign-Justice@Wal-Mart. Similar protests were being held in every state of the Union. Here locally I saw signs from UFCW, local 555; ILWU, local 44; Teamsters, local 206; and Jobs With Justice. There may have been more union support present, but these are the ones I was able to identify. And, the community was present as well, both on location and driving by honking their horns in support.
Before marching, three people spoke, enumerating the grievances which have necessitated the protest, and what changes they are demanding to see in the management of Wal-Mart. The first to speak was Jeff MacDonald, grievance supervisor for UFCW, local 55. He laid out some startling statistics about Wal-Mart employment, like, 2/3 of the workers, about 700,000 people of 1.2 million workers, can't afford Wal-Mart Health Insurance because employee costs amount to about $192 every two weeks. The Walton family is worth about $102 billion. "Now is the time to tell Wal-Mart that if you want to be Americas store, provide for Americas workers, for Americas communities, for Americas families."
Next to speak was Tim Nesbitt, president of the AFL-CIO. "We can't tolerate and we can't afford employers who force their workers to work off the clock and refuse to honor their obligation for overtime, which is a case being heard right now in downtown Portland."
Finally, Tom Leedham, Teamsters, Local 206. He stated that "when Wal-Mart moves in, we see communities decline." They are the biggest corporation in the world, three times bigger than General Motors. It takes two years before you qualify for health care at Wal-Mart. The turn over is on average 50% a year, and up to 300% in some stores. He followed this with some startling statistics about Wal-Marts effects upon the wage levels of workers in China, where the minimum wage is 36 cents and hour. "....in the factories that Wal-Mart uses in China, they have actually driven the wage down to 13 cents an hour. This is a corporate predator."
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