Posted: October 1, 2013
Lessons learned from the Wal-Mart campaign
IBEW 1245 activists share their experience
By Jammi Juarez
The OUR Walmart campaign taught me the importance of community ally support. I was honored to help be the voice for the workers. They would share with us, but were not comfortable going public. However, we successfully had a current associate Margaret Hooten speak at the September 5th Action. She shared her story for the first time. It was also her first time in front of a large crowd. She found the courage to stand up and speak out.
We included the OUR Walmart topic on our monthly Electrical Worker Minority Caucus Youth Conference call and invited everyone to participate nationwide. We had several brothers and sisters at the Sept. 5 action across the country. We submitted a few op-ed pieces as well as invited every news channel to cover the action on Sept. 5. We were able to share the workers’ stories through the media.
We were able to organize two successful actions, July 26 and Sept. 5. The July action resulted in a face to face meeting for the three fired Placerville workers with the Market Manager. The September action gave the workers nationwide media coverage of the issue. The 54 California Assembly and Senate member signatures on the anti-retaliation/ reinstate letter gave the fired workers hope and helped them realize they were not alone. We conducted meetings with seven of the eight Sacramento City Council members. The workers attended these meetings. It gave them a platform to speak out against the unfair treatment they experienced and to educate others.
We worked hard to develop relationships with local religious leaders such as Pastor Don Lee, Bishop Jaime Soto, Basim Elkarra, Rabbi Reuven Taff, and Reverend Phil Konz. Both Bishop Soto and Pastor Lee participated at the actions. All interfaith leaders agreed to sign the national letter. These relationships made throughout the campaign are very important and we hope to maintain them.
The support and solidarity we witnessed firsthand by the Democratic Party, elected officials –Senate, Assembly, and City Council—labor affiliates and staff of the Sacramento Central Labor Council was truly overwhelming. This summer campaign allowed me to develop my leadership skills and gain the confidence to run a successful campaign.