Union helps Texas Walmart workers stage protest

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by TERESA WOODARD / WFAA

khou.com

Posted on November 23, 2012 at 7:31 AM

Updated Tuesday, Nov 5 at 7:14 AM

LANCASTER – Josue Mata, a 28 year old immigrant from Mexico, should have reported to duty at the Walmart on Wheatland Road at 11:00 Wednesday night. He was supposed to get off at 8 a.m. Thanksgiving morning and return to work at 11 that night.  He missed both shifts. He called in 'on strike.'

"It's to show them who has the power," he said. "It's just one step, one person, but one person can make a difference."

Mata is a divorced father of four children. He says he makes $8.70 an hour, cleaning floors. He helped lead the protests outside several Dallas Walmart sites Thursday night, staged to voice displeasure over wages and the company's holiday hours.

"The holiday is time you need to spend with your family," he said. "You have 365 other days to have a sale. It's really pointless. It's all about money."

The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union helped organize the demonstrations in cities across America during the busiest shopping hours. David Tovar, Vice President of Communications for Walmart, called it a "union-funded publicity stunt."

The company said it would try to provide an estimate in how many workers walked off the job, but didn't expect those numbers until Friday. The protest in Lancaster, held around 7:30 p.m. Thursday, did not disrupt shoppers at all. 

"It's very small," said Tovar, in a video statement released by Walmart. "It's a handful of associates at a handful of stores and we don't think it's going to have any impact whatsoever."

Mata hopes that is wrong. He says he is confident he will not be fired from his job, even though it's a job he doesn't like.  

"People always ask me everyday, 'Why don't you quit and find another job?' Well, it's like yeah, sure, but then what's gonna be the future for my kids?"

"If Walmart stays the way it is right now, what's gonna happen in 10 years?" he asked. "It's gonna get worse."

At about 10:30 p.m., Dallas police broke up the protest, ordering Martin and the rest of the picketers off Walmart property. They continued their cause from public property nearby.

Email twoodard@wfaa.com

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