Walmart workers protest alleged unfair labor practices
Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News
A group of people protesting corporate employee-relations practices marches in front of the Port Angeles Walmart store Friday.
Genevieve Aguilar of the Seattle-based Puget Sound Sage economic-equality organization stands in front of the Port Angeles Walmart store Friday as part of a protest of the company’s employee-relations practices. Photo by Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News.
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The action — which was not held at the Sequim Walmart — was in conjunction with similar protests at Walmart stores throughout the nation Thursday and Friday.
“We had a lot of community support,” said Larry Slowey, an associate at the Walmart at 3411 E. Kolonels Way, after the action from 9:30 a.m. to 11 a.m.
Larry Slowey and his wife, Edythe Slowey, who also works at Walmart, are members of OUR Walmart, a national group made up of current and former Walmart employees that formed in 2010.
“We want them to respect us and give us fair wages and fair staffing,” said Larry Slowey, adding that both he and his wife planned to report for work Saturday.
'Unfair labor practices'
He said he and his wife “called in at 4 a.m. [Friday] and told them we were not going to be in because of unfair labor practices in our company. We said we were on a ULP strike. . .”
He said he has worked for Walmart for 18 years, while his wife has 14 years with the company.
“I do enjoy my job,” he said. “I like the company, but the guys with the ties have taken it too far.”
Demonstrations that began last week at stores nationwide were scheduled to culminate on one of the year's busiest shopping days.
After saying that the sales Friday were “very successful,” Becky Hill, shift manager at the Port Angeles Walmart, referred questions about the protest to the corporate office.
Wal-Mart refuted the estimate by OUR Walmart that it was holding an estimated 1,000 protests in 46 states and that hundreds of associates were involved.
Company spokesman Dan Fogleman said roughly 50 employees participated in the events Thursday and a “few dozen” employees Friday.
Among those who protested at the Walmart in Port Angeles on Friday were members of MoveOn, the Teamsters, One America and the United Food and Commercial Workers, said Tom Geiger, communications director for UFCW 21, based in Seattle.
“This is not an effort to unionize,” said Geiger, who added that he was providing public relations support to OUR Walmart.
He said the national UFCW helped create Making Change at Walmart, a coalition of nonprofit groups, but that OUR Walmart “is an independent organization created to change Walmart.”
Wal-Mart has filed an unfair labor practice charge with the National Labor Relations Board against the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, saying that demonstrations organized by OUR Walmart were disruptive.
The company, based in Bentonville, Ark., operates 10,400 stores in 27 countries.
Managing Editor/News Leah Leach can be reached at 360-417-3531 or at email@example.com.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Last modified: November 24. 2012 5:37PM