Feminists, unionists to protest Wal-Mart
November/December 2002

The Gainesville Area National Organization for Women, UF/SFCC Campus NOW and other feminist and workers rights groups are joining together to protest Wal-Mart on Sunday, December 8. The protest is scheduled for noon at the Wal-Mart on NW 13th St. just north of 23rd Ave. The protest is part of a national protest of Wal-Mart.

There are many reasons to object to Wal-Mart: Beneath the "Good Neighbor" image is the classic profit-seeking corporation, crushing human rights and human spirits. Included in the Wal-Mart package are union-busting tactics, low wages, destruction of local stores, mistreatment of workers.

There are additional reasons for feminists to protest Wal-Mart: Discrimination against its women workers. The average wage of Wal-Mart's women "associates" (workers) is $6.10 an hour. The low pay is partly due to sex discrimination. Women make up 72 percent of Wal-Mart's hourly sales employees while 90 percent of Wal-Mart's top managers are men.

A class action suit pending in California alleges that the store "engages in company-wide gender discrimination in its practice of promotion, compensation, and job assignment." Women tell stories of training men who were later promoted over them, of blatant disregard for their experience, of departments in which men were regarded as the only qualified managers, and of getting passed over again and again for men who had less experience and qualification. And if that were not enough for feminists, Wal-Mart also refuses to provide the Morning After Pill at its pharmacies.

Wal-Mart workers also report policies of forcing them to work extra hours without overtime pay, firing without just cause, refusing to pay bills for work-related injuries, denying workers the right to organize, and creating an atmosphere of intimidation.

There is more on Wal-Mart on the website of the Coalition of Labor Union Women (www.cluw.org or www.walmartdayofaction.com). For information on the Gainesville protest of Wal-Mart, call Gainesville Area NOW at 377-2301 or Campus NOW at 846-9617.

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