On the 16th of October, labor activists and Wal-Mart “associated” gathered in front of the AFL-CIO building at 16th and H sts. From there they marched on the offices of the Walton Foundation, where a sign bearing a petition for $15 an hour and full time hours for Wal-Mart workers was refused. The Walton Foundation sent building management to negotiate with protesters who entered the building, claiming the Walton Foundation office was closed and empty. This was a lie, people were sighted inside. With the petition refused, activists moved just north to the intersection of 18th st and K street and blocked the intersection for the next hour and a half. Eventually cops moved in, arresting 16 particpants in the civil disobediance.
The 4 surviving members of the Walton Family were reported at the starting rally at the AFL-CIO to have a net worth of $150 BILLION, more than the bottom 43% of the US public combined. Put another way, that much money would buy 2, 300 Gulfstream G650 luxury corporate jets, each with a list price of $64M in 2013 if the factory could ever produce that many. Meanwhile other speakers called out Wal-Mart for paying so little that their employees are forced to rely on food stamps and other public assistance. This means Wal-Mart relies on a huge taxpayer subsidy to replace a substantial part of the expense of paying a living wage.
Taxpayer subsidies for Wal-Mart also have the effect that Wal-Mart’s competitors must pay their own employees plus part of the equivalent wages for Wal-Mart’s employees! No wonder stores competing with Wal-Mart to go bankrupt. I have personally visited towns so badly damaged by the opening of a Wal-mart that I called them “Wal-Mart nuked.” This means a town filled with boarded up buildings dotted with a few luxury boutiques, like what I saw in Fayettesville, NC during an antiwar protest there in 2005.
The view from inside the building housing the Walton Foundation’s offices
Blocking K street and 18th Street, in the heart of DC’s corporate territory
Cops arresting blockaders after a failed attempt to wait them out