Walmart Worker Calls for a Strike Until the Company Stops Selling Guns

People attending a candlelight vigil in honor of the El Paso victims
Photo: Mario Tama (Getty)

Following the El Paso, Texas, shooting in which a gunman murdered at least 22 people inside a Walmart this weekend, Thomas Marshall, one of the Walmart’s e-commerce category specialists, has sent a mass email, urging workers to engage in a “‘sick out’ general strike” today in an effort to pressure the company to ends gun sales, Business Insider reports.

The email, which was reportedly also distributed within Walmart’s corporate Slack channels, calls out leadership’s “inaction.” It’s not known how many employees will be striking or refusing to show up to work across the company’s 5000+ locations today, and Marshall told BI that he had “no number yet as how many people will either strike all day tomorrow or walk out midday, but we have gotten a considerable amount of support already.” Outside his work at Walmart, its worth noting, Marshall is a writer. His first novel, No More Dead Kids, specifically concerns gun violence and school shootings.

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A spokesperson for Walmart told Gizmodo that the company has “many more constructive avenues for associates to offer feedback” than a strike and that “the vast majority of associates who want to share their views are taking advantage of those options.”

Walmart, controlled by the Walton family, remains the largest corporation by revenue on Earth and has earned the dubious distinction of being the “the single largest retailer of firearms in the United States,” in Marshall’s words. In addition to Walmart, the company also operates Sam’s Club, Seiyo, and Asda. Like its chief rival, Amazon, Walmart has a long track record of resistance to organized labor actions of any stripe.

Restrictions around the sale of guns in Walmart stores have ebbed and flowed over the years, though the general trend has been towards stocking a more restricted catalog of firearms in fewer and fewer stores. The company stopped carrying assault-style weapons in 2015. Handguns can only be bought in the chain’s Alaska locations. Last year it raised the minimum age to buy a gun to 21, mirroring competitor Dick’s Sporting Goods, which has been transitioning away from gun sales, claiming the category is underperforming.

According to a spokesperson, at this time Walmart is not considering ending its sale of firearms.

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If you have any information about these potential strikes, please reach out via email, Twitter, Keybase, or leak us information via SecureDrop.

Read Marshall’s email in full below:

I apologize for the mass email, but this is important, and I thank you for your time.

Yesterday, 21 people were murdered at Walmart #2201 in El Paso, Texas.

In light of recent events, and in response to Corporate’s inaction, we are organizing a ‘sick out’ general strike to protest Walmart’s profit from the sale of guns.

Walmart is a company that has always placed its associates and customers first, and we have recently made great strides toward fostering a safe, inclusive, and progressive community. Last year, Walmart raised the minimum age to buy a firearm or ammunition from 18 to 21 and removed products resembling assault-style rifles from its inventory. Walmart is still, however, the single largest retailer of firearms in the United States.

We have made great strides already, but now we must organize to shape this company into a place we can all be proud of. As associates, we have the power, ability, and opportunity to change this company for the better.

Tomorrow, Tuesday 8/6/2019, do not show up to work.

Email or slack your manager the following message:

“Hello,

I am calling in sick.

I will not be returning to work until Walmart stops the sale of and profit from firearms.

We have one demand, and that is all.

I value Walmart and my fellow associates, but I am no longer willing to contribute my labor to a company that profits from the sale of deadly weapons.

Sincerely,

(Your Name)“

Protests, strikes, and walkouts are protected free speech; our jobs are safe under the U.S. Code § 12203.

A protest like this only works when all of us are involved. There is strength in our solidarity with each other and every victim of gun violence. Please tell every associate you can and help us put an end to our part in such tragedies. Even if we only strike tomorrow, our hope is that such a statement to management will be able to begin an important dialogue.

If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to me.

[BI]

Update 6/8/19 1:31 EST: Reached via email, Marshall told Gizmodo he’s since sent a second letter, this time advocating for an additional day of actions tomorrow, and seeking signatures on a petition. Read it in full below:

Tuesday, July 30th, 2019: 2 people were murdered at Walmart #0848 in Southaven, Mississippi.

Saturday, August 3rd, 2019: 22 people were murdered at Walmart #2201 in El Paso, Texas.

In light of these recent tragedies — a mere snapshot of the gun violence epidemic plaguing the United States — and in response to Corporate’s inaction, we as employees are organizing several days of action, to protest Walmart’s profit from the sale of firearms and ammunition.

Walmart is a company that has always placed its associates and customers first; we have recently made great strides toward fostering a safe, inclusive, and progressive community. Last year, Walmart raised the minimum age to buy a firearm or ammunition from 18 to 21. In 2015, Walmart removed products resembling assault-style rifles from its inventory. Nonetheless, Walmart remains one of the largest retailers of firearms in the United States, and there is a direct correlation between the number/availability of guns and the amount of mass shootings per capita.

Yes, we have made great strides already, but now we must organize to shape this company into a place that we can all be proud of. As associates, we can and must leverage our power and ability to change our company for the better.

To that effect, we are orchestrating the following acts of protest:

Sick Out / Black Out Tuesday: On 8/6/2019, do not show up to work. Let your manager know that you are out for the day and why. If you do show up to work, wear black in solidarity.

Walkout Wednesday: On 8/7/2019, join your fellow associates at exactly 3PM to stand up from our desks walk out of the office.

Change.org Petition: Sign and Share! Show your support by signing our petition to be delivered to CEO Doug McMillon and the leadership team.

We have one demand, and that is all. We value Walmart and our fellow associates, but we are no longer willing to contribute our labor to a company that profits from the sale of deadly weapons.

We would like to see Walmart take a unified and public stance against guns and gun violence. We urge our leadership to cease the sale of all firearms and ammunition, ban the public open and concealed carry of weapons on company property and in all stores, and cease WALPAC donations to NRA backed -A/A+ politicians.

Protests and walkouts are protected free speech; our jobs are safe under U.S. Code § 12203. 

A protest like this works when all of us are involved. There is strength in our solidarity with each other and with every victim of gun violence. Please tell every associate you can and help us put an end to our part in such tragedies. Our hope is that our statement will resonate with the public at large, and Walmart management will fully engage in this life-or-death dialogue.

If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to us at walmartwalkout@gmail.com.

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Updated with comment from Walmart

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Bryan Menegus

Senior reporter. Tech + labor /// bryan.menegus [at] gizmodo.com Keybase: keybase.io/bryangm Securedrop: http://gmg7jl25ony5g7ws.onion/

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