Walmart Workers Protest "Poverty Wages" in 15 Cities, Including Miami Gardens

Walmart workers called for better jobs and higher wages Thursday.

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Walmart workers and supporters took part in a nationwide day of protests in 15 cities, including Miami Gardens, to call for better jobs and higher wages. NBC 6's Justin Finch has the story.

    Walmart workers and supporters took part in a nationwide day of protests in 15 cities, including Miami Gardens, to call for better jobs and higher wages.

    About 30 workers, former employees and supporters marched at 4 p.m. at the Supercenter at 19501 NW 27th Ave. in Miami Gardens.

    Walmart workers say the march is the largest mobilization since Black Friday.

    The protests arose after Walmart “failed to meet a Labor Day deadline to reinstate illegally fired and disciplined workers, publicly commit to improve jobs and end the company’s aggressive violations of workers’ rights,” according to a statement by Making Change at Walmart.

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    Paul Williams was leaving work at a Walmart in Antelope, California when he stumbled upon a wallet in a shopping cart. Inside the wallet was $4,000 in cash, a $1,000 check and multiple credit cards. "I was surprised to see that much money and no ID, no phone number. But there was a check in there with a phone number, so at least I had something to go on," Williams told KCRA 3. He looked for a manager, but couldn't find one, and had to catch the bus home.

    "Walmart says we're family, but where I'm from, family don't do family like that," Walmart worker Samuel Maxwell said. "I have to do things on the side, you know, like part-time work just to make ends meet. I have bills to pay, I have to feed children, I have children who're going to college, and it's kind of rough to do all that on $9.80 an hour."

    Across the country, other workers echoed similar feelings.

    “Walmart, we cannot wait any longer for you to do the right thing for American workers,” said Cindy Murray, a Walmart worker who was recently arrested for protesting at Walmart’s Washington, D.C. offices. “Our jobs should not be at risk when we speak out about improvements that would help our families and Walmart customers.”

    Workers said the company made $16 billion in profit last year while workers earn “poverty wages of $8.81 an hour.”

    Protestors are demanding Walmart pay workers a minimum of $13 an hour.

    A Congressional report released earlier this year calculates the Walmart workforce reliance on public assistance including food stamps, healthcare and other needs is estimated to utilize $900,000 per year of taxpayer funds at just one of the company’s 4,000 stores, workers said.

    “As the nation’s largest employer, Walmart and the Walton family should be raising standards, not lowering them. To whom much is given, much is expected,” said Kim Bobo, executive director of Interfaith Worker Justice. “Walmart should share its prosperity with workers and publicly commit to paying workers $25,000 a year for full time work. If Walmart workers earned living wages the entire economy would benefit.”

    Kory Lundberg, a Walmart spokesman, said the protests are "a show."

    "With very few exceptions, the cast members in this show don't work at Walmart and are not affiliated with the company in any way," he said.

    He added that Walmart has more than 300 retails facilities in Florida and 97,000 associates in the state. What is being expressed is not representative of Walmart employees, Lundberg said.

    "There is opportunity to grow and advance with this company," Lundberg said.

    Cart collector Harry Johnson agrees that the company will grow, and he said he expects his pay to grow as well.

    "In the future, I know I'm going to be getting more," Johnson said. "I mean, that's why I think I'm here."

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