UFCW 21 - A Voice for Working America

Sara Gilbert - OUR Walmart

My name is Sara Gilbert. I have worked at this Federal Way Walmart for the last year and a half. I worked at the Covington store for a couple years before that.

I am a mom. My husband and I have 5 children, including my 5-year old who joins me today. And after work I attend Green River Community College to get my two-year Associates degree.

Today, I am on strike. But I am not alone. Co-workers stand with me. Walmart workers across the country have been coming together to gain a voice on the job. We believe in hard work. We believe in respect. And we believe Walmart can do better. We have formed OUR Walmart to take action together.

When OUR Walmart began a year ago, I was not involved. I was told – as many of my co-workers were told – not to associate with OUR Walmart. That management’s door is always open. But when I was bullied and abused by a manager and brought the issue to my store manager’s attention, they told me I should move departments and did not deal with the problem manager head on.

This is just one example of how they treat us.

I am an easy going person who works hard and treats people fairly. But Walmart showed me that they were not going to respect me. I finally got to the point where I decided I was not going to take it. I overcame my fear about OUR Walmart and joined.

I did not join to make trouble. I joined to get respect and to make Walmart better.

For years, problems in our store were not getting fixed. Things were broken. People working full time get their hours cut and miss health or vacation benefits. You might get 10 weeks at full time. Then the 11th and 12th week they drop your hours down and you don’t get health benefits. If you don’t get full time for 2 years, no vacation either.

If Walmart is not going to fix things themselves, then the workers need a voice. That voice is OUR Walmart. And we should not be penalized when we speak out to make things better.

I went to Bentonville last month. I was in a video taking action. My son has seen that video and he now sings the song. I am standing up for myself and my coworkers. But when I think about it, I am standing up for my kids too. And a better life for them.

OUR Walmart – and the community support for us – is all growing. Last month, hundreds of actions took place across the nation to support striking Walmart workers. We said that Walmart needed to stop trying to silence workers who speak out about trying to improve their working conditions. But this is America. This is a free country. We should not be punished for trying to make our workplaces better. We should not be punished because we assemble together. That is not right.

Will you stand with us?

We could not wait for Black Friday. On November 7th, workers in Richmond, CA walked out on a one-day strike to protest our treatment. Yesterday, workers in the San Francisco Bay area walked off the job. Today, workers from Renton, two Federal Way stores, Lakewood and the Renton Sam’s Club walked off the job. We stand here together this morning. All across the country, the wave is growing. Tomorrow it will be workers somewhere else. And the day after that, somewhere else again.

And on Black Friday, Walmart will see that the numbers of workers taking actions, and the number of customers and others from the community who support us is growing. Walmart will see actions all across the nation on Black Friday. They cannot silence us. When they try, we only grow stronger. And we will keep growing, because we are on the side of freedom and respect. That is all we want.

Will you stand with us?

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