In conjunction with Black Friday strikes at a over a hundred Walmart stores, Unitarian Universalists around the country answered the call to show Walmart workers some love.
As people of faith, UUs joined Interfaith Worker Justice in urging Walmart to:
- provide a living wage and affordable healthcare to its employees;
- establish a global responsible contractor policy requiring contractors to provide living wages, worker safety, and labor rights; and
- sign a national community benefits agreement that ensures Walmart strengthens communities, protects the environment, and is responsible for the well-being of its employees in its retail stores and U.S. supply and distribution chain.
In Phoenix, members of the “Standing on the Side of Love Team” at Valley Unitarian Universalist (VUU) joined a numbers of partners in showing their solidarity and support for Walmart workers on Black Friday. Rev. Andy Burnette, VUU Senior Minister, signed the IWJ’s “Call for Jubilee at Walmart on Black Friday” letter, and the congregations board endorsed it as a formal statement from the congregation. Rob Smith and other congregation members brought the letter to their witness, though they were refused entrance into the store.
In his invitation to VUU Standing on the Side of Love committee members, Smith wrote:
“For me, spending a few hours away from my family on this day is a powerful reminder that many folks working at Walmart and elsewhere will not have the privilege of spending this long weekend with their loved ones as I do.”
For more on the Black Friday Walmart actions in Arizona, check out this video from the demonstrations in Buckeye and Tempe:
Across the country, UUs also participated in other Black Friday witness events:
- First Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Terre Haute, Indiana, delivered a letter to their local Walmart manager.
- Ministers at Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church and Foothills Unitarian Universalist Church in Eastern Tennessee organized with Interfaith Worker Justice of East Tennessee to send an interfaith letter to Walmart store managers in Knoxville, Alcoa, Oak Ridge, Maryville, and Clinton, Tennessee, and to Walmart’s corporate office in Bentonville, Arkansas.
- Rev. Jim VanderWeele of Community Church Unitarian Universalist of New Orleans addressed a witness outside of a Tchoupitoulas, Louisiana, Walmart before leading the group to present a letter to the store manager.
- Unity Church-Unitarian in St. Paul, Minnesota, held a Black Friday worship service.
- Members of Unitarian Universalist Church of Yakima, Washington, witnessed at their local Walmart.
- The Universalist Unitarian Church of Joliet, Illinois, continued their support of Walmart workers with Black Friday events.
- The Geneva, Illinois, Unitarian Church also organized with local partners for Black Friday events.
- Rev. Marti Keller of Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Atlanta, Geogria, offered a sermon on Black Friday.
- UUs joined a witness at a Walmart in Quincy, Massachusetts.
- UU Mass Action promoted state-wide action on Black Friday.
Did you or your congregation participate? Tell us! See Interfaith Worker Justice’s roundup on their blog–they report organizing over 100 actions of the 1,000 that were held around the country!
This round-up was compiled by Audra Friend, Program Coordinator, Unitarian Universalist Association Multicultural Growth & Witness.