A Walmart strike did not go exactly as you would expect at a Supercenter in St. Cloud Florida on Wednesday. The walkout included just one employee, a cake decorator that worked in the bakery department. Vanessa Ferreira, 59, told her manager that she was going on strike. No other employees joined her mini-strike. They just watched her go outside and then tended to their jobs.
The eight-year employee was outside the store when the police arrived and informed her that she was trespassing. Walmart had apparently called the police and they forced her to leave. Ferreira made $11.90 an hour decorating cakes in the Supercenter’s bakery. “I love to decorate cakes,” Ferreira said Wednesday. “That’s my priority — to do my cakes the best I can.”
Ferreira said that the wages Walmart paid were far too low to survive on, and that workers had to use government benefits to supplement their incomes. She also said that many employees are on part-time status, which makes it very difficult for them. “They pay low wages, then the taxpayers pick up the tab for food stamps and Medicaid,” Ferreira said. “They need to take care of their people. They need to be responsible to their workers.” Being placed on part time status likely means that these employees aren’t eligible to receive the same benefits as full-time employees, and that means more money out of their pockets.
This strike came as a result of Ferreira’s joining the union-supported OUR Walmart group, which had a Walmart strike planned in cities all across the nation, something that would cripple the store irreparably before the biggest shopping day of the year. No word yet on how many other strikes occurred in other Walmart stores, but Ferreira says that she tried to recruit other members to strike with her, but was unsuccessful. “They’re so scared,” Ferreira said of her co-workers. “I couldn’t get anybody to join. They said, ‘You can’t fight Walmart.'”
While that might be true, if enough of Walmart’s 1.4 million plus workforce took part in a strike, the retailer would certainly have to accede to demands made. However, with so many out of work these days, many are grateful just to be earning, even if its only around $10 an hour. However, the fact is, this woman showed remarkable courage in walking out and standing up for employee rights, and for Walmart to call the police and have her cited for trespassing could be a very good example of just how Walmart feels about their employees.
Photo by TheChanel on Flickr.com
Gabriel Legend covers current events for Gather News, and writes horror fiction as well. He is participating in this year’s National Novel Writing Month Challenge. You can follow him on Twitter (@GabeLegend).