Sanders campaign launches petition and pledges to help raise money for United for Respect, the nation’s largest nonprofit fighting for people who work in retail


NATIONWIDE — Senator Bernie Sanders has joined the fight to protect Walmart associates and demand the company offer protective gear, paid time off, and hazard pay amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Yesterday, the Sanders campaign launched a petition calling on his supporters to stand with Walmart associates and pledging to help raise money for them.

Classified as “essential” working people, Walmart associates have helped keep stores open across the country despite a lack of protective measures and support from Walmart. Associates are interacting with each other and hundreds of customers on a daily basis, many of whom have experienced mild to severe signs of illness.

“We are on the frontlines and we have zero safety equipment or support from our employer,” said Cyndi Murray, a 63-year-old Walmart associate in Maryland who earns only one hour of sick pay for every 30 hours worked. “Most Walmart associates don’t get enough paid time off. Don’t just label us ‘essential’, treat us as such, too. We need protective gear, hazard pay, and paid time off so that we can continue to do our jobs and keep ourselves, our families, and our customers safe.”

The recent Emergency Coronavirus Bill exempted companies like Walmart from having to offer additional paid time off for employees. Walmart associates took matters into their own hands and have been calling on the company to: (1) provide gloves, masks, and protections to all employees, (2) ensure paid sick and family leave, and (3) hazard pay at double the regular pay for employees working during the pandemic.

Sanders, who joined Walmart employees at a shareholder’s meeting in 2019 to call for workers to have a seat on corporate boards, has helped raise over $3.5 million for coronavirus relief efforts.

The petitions shared by Sanders were sent out on April 1 and have already received tens of thousands of signatures. The money raised by the Sanders campaign will support several organizations, including United for Respect’s fight for immediate protections at work for Walmart and Amazon employees, a voice in public policy that affects working families, and long-term economic stability such as livable wages and comprehensive, affordable health coverage.