NATIONWIDE — Tomorrow, responding to the coronavirus deaths of two Walmart employees in Chicago, 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 billionaire 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.

“Associates like me are risking our lives everyday, but it’s like Walmart doesn’t care. They didn’t pass the emergency leave policy until an employee tested positive for COVID-19 in Kentucky. They stalled for weeks implementing social distancing after the CDC announced guidelines on March 16 and most of us still don’t even have access to gloves, masks or hand sanitizer. With Walmart, it’s always too little too late,” said Melissa Love, a United for Respect member who has worked at Walmart for four years. “Walmart has made a number of announcements on their response to COVID-19, but they have not said a word on how Walmart plans to inform employees and customers in a store when an associate contracts coronavirus or is quarantined— what’s the policy? We need to know the truth so we can protect ourselves. Two Walmart associates died in the same store in Evergreen Park. This is horrifying. Associates are scared, and now we’re hearing that store management knew about Wando Park’s COVID-19 diagnosis at his store, but they didn’t inform his coworkers. That kind of reckless behavior needlessly endangers employees and customers alike. Walmart has to get serious about protecting our health and safety by letting us know immediately if someone at our store has COVID-19. Walmart should also publicly commit to paid time off for every employee at a store where someone contracts COVID-19, to allow them to self-quarantine and prevent it from spreading.”

Yesterday, 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.

WHO: Walmart employees; Angela McMiller, sister of late Walmart employee Phillip Thomas

WHAT: Press call with frontline Walmart employees calling on the corporation to take immediate action by publicly committing to generous hazard pay, universal paid leave, comprehensive healthcare, and adequate protective gear for all employees.

WHEN: Friday, April 10, 2020 at 11:00am EST

RSVP: Taylor Campbell, [email protected]

Background Information

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.

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 death 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 by providing generous hazard pay, universal paid leave, comprehensive and affordable healthcare, and protective gear.

Congress exempted large corporations like Walmart and Amazon from the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (H.R. 6201) legislation that requires businesses provide emergency paid sick and family leave to their workforces. Consequently, millions of working people are likely to go to work sick in fear of losing their job or benefits, adding to the public health care crisis. Retail employees with United for Respect are calling on Congress to ensure that the fourth stimulus package includes the P.A.I.D. Leave Act, which guarantees comprehensive, permanent paid leave for all working people.

Since its launch on March 16, a multi-organization paid sick leave petition has garnered more than 90,000 signatures, signaling growing employee momentum for an overhauled sick time policy at the nation’s largest corporate employers.