Dozens of workers from Walmart and the Darden Restaurant Group, which includes Red Lobster, Olive Garden, and Capital Grille, were joined by labor and community groups for the Just Hours campaign to protest in front of the Jacob Javits Center Tuesday morning, but unlike Walmart’s signature smiley-face logo, these workers have nothing to smile about. While Walmart CEO Bill Simon was inside giving a speech for the National Retail Federation, his own employees complained not just about low wages and wage theft, but Walmart’s last-minute shift schedules, giving workers little time to plan for child care, classes, or take on other jobs. And unpredictable schedules mean unpredictable paychecks, making it difficult to cover basic living costs.
Employees are also not entitled to paid sick days, with restaurant workers recounting stories of being ill and having to serve patrons. To make matters worse, Darden workers claim Latino and African immigrants face discrimination because they are rarely promoted in the workplace. It’s shameful that Walmart and Darden, two of America’s largest corporations, pride themselves on their low prices, while continuing to short change their employees with low wages and no respect.