All photos, except where indicated, courtesy of Elizabeth Brennan, Communications Director, Warehouse Workers United. Copyright 2012. No reproduction or use thereof without the permission of WWU.
WHAT: WalMarch Final Day: Hundreds rallied and greeted warehouse workers at the end of a 50-mile march in Downtown LA
WHO: 500+ people, Warehouse Workers, LA County Federation of Labor Secretary- Treasurer Maria Elena Durazo, Elected officials including U.S. Rep. Judy Chu, Members of the Clergy
WHERE: Los Angeles City Hall, 200 S. Spring St., Los Angeles
WHEN: 11 a.m., Tuesday, Sept. 18
VISUALS: Cameras captured the final steps at 10:30 a.m.: Marchers dramatically concluded their 50-mile pilgrimage marching up First St. to Spring St. The rally and press conference commenced just after 11 a.m.
“We are the workers! (We are the workers)
Fighting for justice! (Fighting for justice)
Fighting for safety! (Fighting for safety)
Fighting for our families! (Fighting for our families)
Fighting for respect! (Fighting for respect)…”
In classic military fashion, the weary but triumphant Walmart warehouse workers sang their marching song, blue banners and yellow WWU flags held high in the bright morning sunlight, as they took their last few, painful steps up to their final destination point: the west steps of the Los Angeles City Hall. After six long days of non-stop walking in temperatures that reached into the nineties, feet blistered and sore and backs aching from sleeping on church floors, the striking Walmart warehouse workers finally completed their “pilgrimage” as they took those last few steps of the 50 mile march that began six days ago in Riverside County and ended in Los Angeles yesterday.
They were greeted by members of the Los Angeles press, many of whom had already rushed out to meet the marchers earlier that morning as they filled the streets of downtown Los Angeles: drawing stares of awe and amazement from passers-bye and looks of bemusement from LAPD cops who-astride bicycles-followed the marchers right up to the very steps of City Hall.
“Hello, everyone! My name is Guadalupe Palma from Warehouse Workers United…” began the WWU’s political director, to a resounding cheer from the marchers that caused her to pause before she could resume her speech (spoken in both English and Spanish). “How do you guys feel, warehouse workers?(thunderous cheers from the marchers) It’s been a long journey: 50 miles all the way from the Inland Empire to downtown Los Angeles…” (see video below)
Ms. Guadalupe Palma led Tuesday’s rally that included guest speakers such as U.S. Rep. Judy Chu, Executive Secretary -Treasurer Maria Elena Durazo and Marty Morgenstern, California Labor Secretary, Office of Gov. Jerry Brown.
At the completion of Ms. Palma’s speech she introduced Raymond Castillo, who gave a short speech.
Ms. Palma then gave the crowd what they had been waiting for: the co-founder of the UFW and recipient of the Presidential Metal of Freedom: Dolores Huerta. Ms. Huerta observed: “It’s time for you (Walmart) to reflect on the way that you are treating your workers right now! You can’t forever hide and outsource these jobs. We want to say to Walmart ‘You ARE responsible for your workers and you have got to treat these workers with dignity, you have got to give them better wages, you have got to give them better working conditions and don’t hide behind some contractor that’s going to treat these workers like they are sub-human!’ These marchers made a great sacrifice, walking these 50 miles.” (see video below)
Below is Rueben: a 61 year old warehouse worker who completed the 50 mile “WalMarch” journey to Los Angeles yesterday. Here, he speaks about his workplace experiences after he joined the Warehouse Workers United Union, how he continues to struggle to make a living on his current wages and his hope that the “WalMarch” will have a positive effect.
The Los Angeles Beat congratulates these courageous and determined Walmart warehouse workers on the completion of their six day, fifty mile journey from Riverside County to the Los Angeles City Hall. We wish them success in their endeavor to obtain safer work conditions through successful negotiations with Walmart executives in the coming months.