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Josh Eidelson in Salon.com
Wal-Mart could afford to hike every U.S. employee’s hourly wage to at least $14.89 an hour just by not repurchasing its own stock, according to a new report from the progressive think tank Demos.
“We find that if Walmart redirected the $7.6 billion it spends annually on repurchases of its own company stock, these funds could be used to give Walmart’s low-paid workers a raise of $5.83 an hour, more than enough to ensure that all Walmart workers are paid a wage equivalent to at least $25,000 a year for full-time work,” authors Catherine Ruetschlin and Amy Traub write in the Demos paper, “A Higher Wage Is Possible: How Walmart Can Invest in Its Workforce Without Costing Customers a Dime.” Demos, whose funders include unions, is releasing the paper Tuesday morning.
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Walmart illegally disciplined and fired employees over strikes and protests, the National Labor Relations Board said on Monday.
In addition, the board’s general counsel said an inquiry found evidence that a Walmart spokesman, appearing on national television, had unlawfully threatened employees who were considering taking part in the protests.
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Surrounded by about 100 police officers in riot gear and a helicopter circling above, more than 50 Walmart workers and supporters were arrested in downtown Los Angeles Thursday night as they sat in the street protesting what they called the retailer’s “poverty wages.”
Organizers said it was the largest single act of civil disobedience in Walmart’s 50-year history. The 54 arrestees, with about 500 protesting Walmart workers, clergy and supporters, demonstrated outside LA’s Chinatown Walmart.
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In twelve weeks, on the busiest shopping day of the year, Walmart workers will mount what may be the biggest-ever US strike against the retail giant. In an e-mailed statement, a campaign closely tied to the United Food & Commercial Workers union promised “widespread, massive strikes and protests for Black Friday,” the day after Thanksgiving. A Black Friday strike last year, in which organizers say over 400 workers walked off the job, was the largest and highest-profile action to date by the union-backed non-union workers’ group OUR Walmart, and the largest US strike in the company’s five-decade history.
Story via the Nation
Workers hold a sit-in in front of a Walmart office in Washington, DC, on August 22, 2013. (Credit: Making Change at Walmart)
Nine fired workers and a current employee were arrested around 2:30 pm Thursday after locking arms and sitting in front of the entrance to a Washington, DC, Walmart office. The planned act of civil disobedience concluded a noon rally at which workers announced a Labor Day deadline for Walmart to raise wages and reinstate workers they allege were fired for their activism. Twenty workers who joined a June strike by the labor group OUR Walmart have since been terminated; another fifty-some have been otherwise disciplined by Walmart.
the rest of the story by Josh Eidelson: