Tracker Launch Marked by Single Largest Coordinated Call Out by Walmart Associates, Protesting Lack of Transparency, Dangerous Work Conditions
United for Respect’s COVID-19 tracker sources information from Walmart associates nationwide and includes documented reports of COVID-19 cases, stories of infected frontline retail workers, and updates on store conditions for workers and customers
NATIONWIDE — Today, in response to the climbing rate of COVID-19 infections and deaths among people who work at Walmart and the corporation’s lack of transparency and failure to protect employees, customers and the public, United for Respect members launched a COVID-19 tracker to track infections and monitor store conditions. Prompted by the skyrocketing number of COVID-19 cases in Walmart stores and persistently unsafe working conditions in stores nationwide, more than 500 members of United for Respect marked the launch of the tracker with a pledge to call out from work today — the largest single coordinated call out by Walmart associates to date since the COVID-19 outbreak.
United for Respect’s COVID-19 tracker will allow associates nationwide to report infections and store safety conditions. The information will be publicly available for associates as well as customers, who can see reports based on their store location.
“The rise of deaths and infections of Walmart associates show clearly that the company is not only failing to keep its associates and customers safe, but also failing to communicate clearly about store conditions. We can’t wait for more half-measures — we’re taking matters into our own hands to get the information we deserve to know,” said Ruby Ann Woolwine, who also called out from their shift at Walmart in Michigan. “The tracker will allow associates to keep each other informed and safe and keep our customers safe too. It’s both a resource for the public and a call for Walmart to prioritize our safety.”
Today’s tracker launch and call out comes as three defining patterns have emerged in Walmart’s failed response to COVID-19, including:
- Refusing to follow social distancing guidelines; offer protective equipment (and in some cases not allowing employees to bring their own), or provide hazard pay;
- Failing to disclose positive cases to customers, the community, and Walmart’s own employees in stores; and
- Exacerbating this crisis by offering inadequate paid sick leave, as well as leaving hundreds of thousands without affordable healthcare.
The Wall Street Journal reported that nearly 2,000 Walmart associates have tested positive for COVID-19. This month alone, Walmart associates in a store in the Chicago area and in Aurora, Colorado passed away after contracting COVID-19, bringing total reported COVID-19 deaths of Walmart employees to at least 20. Public health officials in Aurora shut down the area Walmart because of numerous complaints from customers and employees of hazardous conditions.
“Enough is enough. Walmart executives are so removed from the reality of what’s happening in their stores that they don’t understand: our customers can’t be served if associates are out sick. What makes it more frustrating, and even scarier, is Walmart is keeping us in the dark about the potential and confirmed COVID-19 cases,” said Jessie Metcalfe who works at a Walmart in Colorado. “But now associates can use the tracker to keep each other and the public informed about the actual conditions in stores. We know — better than anyone — what’s needed to safeguard the health of our families, our customers, and our communities, and that’s why we’ll keep raising our voices to demand PPE, hazard pay, and healthcare.”
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. Congress’ Families First Coronavirus Response Act (H.R. 6201) legislation required that businesses provide emergency paid sick and family leave to their workforces, yet because of the exemption for the country’s largest and wealthiest corporations, millions of people who work paycheck to paycheck are likely to go to work sick in fear of losing their job and benefits. A multi-organization paid sick leave petition has garnered nearly 100,000 signatures nationwide, signaling growing employee momentum for an overhauled sick time policy at the nation’s largest corporations.
To RSVP for the COVID-19 tracker launch presentation, please confirm your interest to [email protected] by 12pm ET on Wednesday, April 29. The tracker launch presentation will take place at 1pm ET on Wednesday, April 29.