As managers at Richmond’s Walmart Supercenter prepared to launch a grand re-opening this morning, a handful of workers who have spent the last four months renovating the store walked out to protest what they said were ongoing cases of mistreatment by management.
Shoppers were greeted by placard-wielding protesters, carrying signs reading “Stand Up, Live Better, Stop Retaliation” and “Stop Trying to Silence Us.”
The protesters were a combination of Walmart associates and members of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union and the Organization United for Respect at Walmart.
Misty Tanner, a longtime Walmart employee, transferred to the store four months ago to work on the remodel. She said the project manager has threatened and intimidated employees.
Raymond Bravo, a Walmart associate who also participated in the protest, said that he has faced retaliation from management.
“When I tried to hold my assistant manager accountable, my hours were cut for two weeks,” Bravo said.
Managers at the Supercenter were said to be in meetings for much of the day, as workers rearranged presentation tables set up for the launch.
“Everyone is being taken care of and everything is being taken care of according to our procedures,” said Peggy, an assistant manager at the Hilltop store who only gave her first name. “We cannot comment on allegations against staff because all names are confidential. They have to be here to defend themselves.”
Protesters said mistreatment had been going on for some time and Bravo said he and his colleagues had signed a letter stating their complaints and submitted it to the management about two weeks ago.
Walmart spokesperson Delia Garcia said she had not seen the letter, and that the protest was the first allegation management had received from employees.
“All allegations of discrimination and mistreatment are taken seriously and investigated,” Garcia said.
Garcia also said only a few of the protesters were Walmart associates, with the rest of them UFCW members she accused of inciting Walmart employees.
“The reality is that it is unfortunate that the UFCW tries to disrupt our business,” Garcia said.
“UFCW is trying to get attention for themselves.”