About 50 Walmart employees and labor rights organizers protested outside a Walmart location on Fletcher Avenue in Tampa Wednesday as part of a national war of protests.
“Walmart has no respect for its workers,” said Jaime Martinez, a maintenance employee at a Walmart on Gunn Highway. “If you tell them something will take two hours, they’ll say ‘Do it in one hour’ and if you don’t they write you up.”
Martinez said he was disciplined recently for missing a day of work though he was sick. “I was in the emergency room getting surgery. It’s outrageous.”
Nancy Reynolds, a cashier at a Walmart in Merritt Island who came to Tampa for the protests, said, “The problem is anyone who speaks up is retaliated against.”
Such protests are becoming more common, as workers and labor groups rally around the goal of raising the minimum wage and earning more secure wages. Business groups have countered protests, saying they pay fair wages, and have criticized the events as orchestrated by labor unions.
A Walmart spokesperson Wednesday dismissed the protests as a yearly “PR stunt timed to our annual shareholders meeting” by the labor group. “At this point, about 100 of our 1.3 million U.S. associates have participated, which is fewer than last year,” said Kory Lundberg. “The reason is mainly because our associates know we offer good jobs.
“Also, there’s a reason the associates who are part of this front group are still with Walmart – it’s because they also understand their Walmart job is a good job,” Lundberg said, citing Walmart employment benefits that include educational and career growth opportunities, a 401K-retirement plan, bonuses based on store performance and health benefits.