UFCW 21 Community Partner Profile:
Last November marked unprecedented Black Friday events at Walmart stores throughout Washington State. Working with UFCW 21 Organizers, community groups led actions in over 60 Walmarts from Bellingham to Vancouver, Port Angeles to Spokane and just about every one of their stores in-between. Two of the best coordinated and effective actions were led by the Church Council of Greater Seattle's Living Wage Working Group. The Living Wage Working Group convenes people of faith to work for economic justice. They envision a city and region where all who work can earn enough to participate in the fullness of life as God intends. They are committed to walk with women and men who work and yet struggle to make ends meet.
On Black Friday 2014, two congregations of the Living Wage Working Group adopted Walmarts in Lynnwood and Everett. Guided by Steve Clagett and Jenn Hagedorn, the All Pilgrims and Plymouth churches engaged their members to make hand written messages of solidarity to the workers of Walmart which they distributed to workers. Members of their congregations gave out 100s of stickers to customers and presented their handmade banners to the Walmart mangers.
The Living Wage Working Group builds long term relationships with workers in the struggle for a living wage. They have taken part in two other actions since Black Friday, at the Lynnwood and Federal Way Walmart stores and hosted a panel of Walmart workers and organizers in April to share their stories and plan future solidarity actions. At the most recent action on 4-15 in connection with workers in the low wage economy, Michael Ramos of the Church Council led a delegation of 20 community members to speak to the manager of the Federal Way store about the retaliation against Mary Watkines, an OurWalmart leader. His leadership inspired Mary and her colleagues who face disrespect and intimidation in the workplace.
Later on 4-15 members of the Church Council joined Uber workers, Macy's workers, and SU adjunct professors advocating for systemic change for all workers.
UFCW 21 is honored that the Church Council of Greater Seattle and in particular the Living Wage Working Group is a trusted ally and partner for raising standards so that every worker can afford to live and thrive.