Wal-Mart Strike, October 4, 2012. (Photo by Matt Hamilton, courtesy of Flickr user Neon Tommy.)
This story has been updated to reflect additional terminations, condemnations from members of Congress, and comment from Walmart. The original story appears below the updates.
Update (10:45 AM EST, Monday):The OUR Walmart campaign now alleges that since Friday, Walmart has terminated nine workers who joined this month's strike, and disciplined eighteen others. According to the campaign, two other strikers were terminated during or after the strike but prior to Friday. That makes twenty-nine workers who went on strike this month and were allegedly punished; twenty-six of those strikers were among the hundred-some who traveled to Arkansas.
Reached over e-mail, Walmart spokesperson Kory Lundberg told The Nation, "our decision had everything to do with what was a violation of attendance policy and nothing to do with a specific protest."
Update (4:45 pm EST, Saturday): Of the roughly 100 Walmart workers who this month went on strike and traveled to Arkansas, OUR Walmart alleges that five have been fired, ten have received disciplinary “coachings,” and one has been suspended. Along with Lisa Lopez from Orlando, the other fired workers are from Miami; Chicago; and Lakewood, California. Organizers allege that one of the workers was told directly that the termination was for striking, and that several of the “coachings” were identified as punishment for “unexcused absence” during the strike.
Asked about the firings of Walmart workers who went on strike, Congressman Keith Ellison told The Nation, “One, they are to be expected. Two, they are completely unjust and illegal.” Ellison (DFL-MN), who co-chairs the Congressional Progressive Caucus, added, “Power concedes nothing without a demand, and if these CEOs at these big companies are reaping ultra-profits out of the hard labor of these workers, they’re not about to give it up easily. So you’re going to have these retaliatory measures.” Ellison urged elected officials “to intervene and to really stick up for the workers,” and said that at the CPC, “we need to be much more engaged” on the issue of workplace retaliation. “Because people shouldn’t have to suffer in silence,” said Eliison, “and if people are willing to step out there, and to risk so much, they shouldn’t be alone.”
Reached by email, Congressman Alan Grayson (D-FL) also slammed Lisa Lopez’s termination: “It’s ridiculous that WalMart would fire an employee for bringing WalMart’s own rule book to the job. Whom do they think they are fooling? Would WalMart fire me for bringing the Constitution to work?”