Walmart Employees Hold Walkout Over Gun Sales
Following the El Paso shooting, employees are pushing the company to stop selling guns
After the recent shooting at a Walmart in El Paso, the company is coming under fire for their decision to continue to sell guns. This week that pressure was increased as some of their employees held a walkout.
The protest consisted of roughly 40 white-collar employees who work in the retailer’s e-commerce division in Brooklyn, New York, and Portland, Oregon. The point of the walkout was to urge the company to stop selling guns and discontinue political donations to elected officials and candidates who take money from the National Rifle Association (NRA).
Currently, Walmart sells guns in about half of their stores. This makes the retailer one of the country’s largest sellers of guns and ammo. The company has also faced increasing violence in their stores. Just in the past week, there have been two shootings at Walmart, with 22 dying in El Paso and 2 employees being shot at a store in Southaven, Mississippi. On Thursday, a man was arrested in Missouri after he started a panic at the local Walmart when he walked in wearing body armor and carrying a loaded rifle. The 20-year-old man also had more than 100 rounds of ammunition on him.
In addition to the walkout, the employees have started a Change.org petition to pressure the company. On August 9th, the petition already had over 54,000 signatures.
“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,” the organizers wrote in the petition. “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.”
Walmart has faced criticism for its decision to sell firearms for several years. To dampen done some of that criticism, the company has increased the minimum age to buy a gun or ammunition from 18-21 and has removed assault-style rifles from their inventory. However, the Walmart Walkout says that is not enough and blame the company for their role in the prevalence of guns in the community.
The staff at Walmart are not the only ones ramping up the pressure on America’s largest retailer. The American Federation of Teachers (AFT) has joined in the movement saying that they will recommend that their members boycott Walmart if they continue to sell guns. Of course, union teachers shouldn’t be shopping there already due to Walmart’s horrible anti-union labor record, but the reality is that in many places teachers have few options.
"If Walmart continues to provide funding to lawmakers who are standing in the way of gun reform, teachers and students should reconsider doing their back-to-school shopping at your stores," AFT president Randi Weingarten wrote in an Aug. 7 letter to Walmart CEO Doug McMillon.
The AFT points out that they represent 1.7 million people and that the average teacher will spend $500 on school supplies each year for their classroom’s. That $500 doesn’t even factor in the money that those teachers would spend on their own children at Walmart, making the impact of a boycott even greater. This isn’t the first time the AFT has taken a stand on gun violence. Just last year the union cut ties with Wells Fargo, who was their preferred mortgage lender after the bank refused to cut ties with the NRA.