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Fear Is No Option: Walmart Associate Martha Sellers




On December 5, as part of its 20th anniversary celebration, the L.A. Alliance for a New Economy will honor OUR Walmart, an organization determined to transform conditions at the world’s largest retailer. Frying Pan News recently asked Walmart employee Martha Sellers, who has worked at the company’s Paramount store for 10 years, to reflect on her role in one of the most ambitious social justice efforts of our time.

Frying Pan News: If you could sit down for a one-on-one conversation with Walmart CEO Mike Duke, what would you say?

Martha Sellers: Explain to me why you cannot afford to pay us a living wage when it is proven you make mega bucks. Why?

You spend your money on all these things but your associates. Why?

You spend money on PR and opening more stores when the stores that are already open are not doing well. Why?

Why do you ignore us? I hate being ignored.

FPN: What do you want people to know about what it’s like to work at Walmart?

Sellers: I like doing my job and I like giving customers good service, but often I cannot leave my register to help customers because we are so understaffed. You cannot give true customer service when there is not enough of you to do so. I am often stressed because then customers get upset at me. I then direct them to upper management to have the customer express their concerns to them because it is not my fault we are understaffed.

FPN: What have you learned about yourself by joining the OUR Walmart fight?

Sellers: I learned where my fighting spirit came from. The belief my grandmother gave to me that hard work pays and when things are not right we fight, fight, fight and fix it. We join together to fix it because there is strength in numbers.

I was scared in the beginning and I have learned to accept the fear and I choose not to be afraid, not live my life in fear. Fear is a choice, and it’s not an option for me.

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