Following today’s action, Walmart employees to hold a tele-press conference on Friday with Angela McMiller, sister of late Evergreen Park Walmart employee Phillip Thomas
NATIONWIDE — Today, responding to the coronavirus deaths of two Walmart employees in Chicago, United for Respect members who work at a New Orleans Walmart called out after learning that there was an active COVID-19 case not being handled appropriately and putting employees at risk.
Walmart is the largest corporate employer of Black and Latinx workers, who are more likely to have to work outside the home, already at high risk for COVID-19 and less likely to have access to testing. The corporation continues to neglect employees’ safety in and out of crisis situations. In the wake of the COVID-19-related deaths of Phillip Thomas and Wando Evans, employees are calling on the billionaire Waltons who own Walmart and CEO Doug McMillon to immediately stop putting associates’ lives at risk.
“People who work at Walmart are dying!” said Maya Smith, a United for Respect member who has worked at Walmart for nine months. “We are deemed essential and risking our lives every day but Walmart doesn’t care about our safety or well-being. Their ‘emergency policies’ have been a day late and a dollar short. They’re just trying to keep a good image in the press because most of us still don’t have access to gloves, masks, or hand sanitizer which we’ve been requesting for weeks. No more deaths should have to happen before Walmart starts caring about their employees.”
United for Respect members are alarmed that Walmart has apparently not informed employees when coworkers in their store have been diagnosed with COVID-19. Despite the heightened risk Walmart employees face by continuing to serve the public, the corporation has failed to institute hazard pay to adequately compensate people who are putting themselves and their families at risk by working.
After consecutive weeks of half-measures by Walmart to protect its frontline employees and customers in response to COVID-19, and as cases of confirmed COVID-19 diagnoses and even deaths are mounting among hourly employees, United for Respect members working at Walmart sent a letter to CEO Doug McMillon last week outlining calls for real action. They continue to call on the corporation to protect the health and safety of essential employees and the public.
On Friday morning at 11 am EST, United for Respect members who work at Walmart will lead a tele-press conference with Angela McMiller, sister of late Evergreen Park Walmart employee Phillip Thomas, to call on the Waltons and CEO Doug McMillon to immediately stop putting associates’ lives at risk and to provide generous hazard pay, universal paid leave, comprehensive healthcare, and protective gear to all employees.
To RSVP for the tele-press conference, please contact [email protected]4respect.org.
February CDC Interim Guidance for Businesses and Employers advised employers to explore establishing policies that would increase the physical distance among employees and between employees and others.
On February 28, 2020 Walmart issued a memo to all US employees acknowledging that COVID-19 “…appears to mainly be spread through close person-to-person contact,” but Walmart failed to even mention protocols for employees to practice social distancing with coworkers and customers.
By mid-March the CDC recommended people avoid crowded places and maintain distance from others. They also recommended all events of 50 people or more be cancelled.
By late March, Walmart corporate executives and workers were reporting “Black Friday like crowds” in stores across the country. Nationally, Walmart took no additional steps to limit the number of customers allowed in stores, unnecessarily putting employees and customers in harm’s way.
Despite workers’ ongoing concerns about the inability to effectively socially distance inside crowded Walmart stores, the corporation waited until April 3, 2020 to begin limiting the number of customers allowed into a store at one time, but the new guidelines are insufficient and still allow a whopping 900 customers to be in a store at any one time
About 347,000 people at Walmart have no access or fail to utilize paid leave whatsoever according to a UC Berkeley study and NYT editorial and 88% of Walmart employees report coming to work sick under the company’s non-emergency leave policies.