Walmart Retaliates!

Community stands with fired worker

Ismael Nunez and Jennifer Sanchez

Ismael Nunez and Jennifer Sanchez address a press conference outside Walmart Supercenter in Meford.

 

While Walmart claims publicly that they respect the rights of workers to speak out, according to complaints, managers at stores in southern Oregon and across the country are doing just the opposite – firing or disciplining employees who participated in legal protests.

Ismael Nunez, an 11 year associate has been speaking out for better working conditions at the Klamath Falls Walmart. Nunez is a local leader in the movement for ‘$15 and Full Time at Walmart.’  Nunez had previously spoke up about understaffing in his store and the struggle for associates to earn a living wage. Nunez and his wife Jennifer Sanchez, another Walmart associate, participated in the Thanksgiving holiday “Black Friday” protests in Medford, Klamath Falls and Portland.

Last November, workers and labor activists staged hundreds of protests at Walmart stores in cities locally and across the U.S., to demand living wages, stable schedules and better working conditions. Employees also accused the company of punishing workers who participate in such labor actions.

“I worked at Walmart for 11 years and didn’t have problems until I started getting involved along with other employees across the country in campaigns for better wages, better benefits and other improvements at Walmart. “ said Nunez.

In retaliation for speaking out, Nunez claims Walmart suspended him without pay. Furthermore, Walmart management called the police to have Nunez escorted from the store. “I told him [assistant manager]  that I was scheduled to work another half hour to 7AM and he walked away. All of a sudden, he had called the police and had them escort me outside the story. He told me I would be arrested if I came back. “ Later, Nunez was officially terminated from his position, supposedly for “poor productivity” despite being tasked to do the job of several people.

Since his termination, hundreds of signatures have been delivered to Walmart management in support for Nunez. People from all across the state have called and left messages for the store manager asking for Nunez to be rehired.  Community organizers have staged protests at Walmarts in Klamath Falls and Medford and plan to take the issue further.

“It is a simple request that we ask that Walmart adhere to their anti-retaliation policy,” said community member Austin Folnagy. Folnagy is among dozens of local community members who have protested Nunez’s termination. “Walmart is the largest retailer in the area and they need to act like a fair, respectable employer. I wouldn’t be protesting or collecting signatures for a petition if I didn’t think they can hold themselves to that standard.”