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Labor & Economy

One Walmart Worker’s Story





June 30 march. (Neil Jacobs/L.A. County Federation of Labor)

Under clear skies and searing heat, thousands turned out on June 30 to protest Walmart’s controversial plan to open its first L.A. grocery store in Chinatown. Among the featured speakers at the event was Grishriela Green — one of dozens of current Walmart employees who joined the march and rally, bringing with them a distinctly personal perspective on the retail giant.

Green, who was hired by Walmart’s store in the Crenshaw District three and a half years ago, was raised in a family that imbued her with an understanding of the importance of hard work, and of speaking one’s mind. When the Crenshaw Walmart first opened, Green was optimistic about the effect it would have on her life and community, but quickly became disillusioned with the corporation’s claims.

“One of the promises, which is a half-truth, is it’s a career opportunity for each and every associate,” said Green. “Even after 20 years, most Walmart associates don’t make over $13 an hour.”

Though promoted to manager, Green’s salary remains below $10 an hour, and she relies on government assistance for health care because she can’t afford the company’s plan — a reality common to hundreds of thousands of Walmart employees across the country. Her disenchantment deepened when she was injured on the job, an experience that became a catalyst for her transformation into a leader:

“My leadership began sitting on my couch at home in a neck brace from being injured on the job. I [felt] disregarded, disrespected and basically broken and defeated by my upper management at Walmart.”

Green’s story is shared by many other Walmart employees, but her willingness to express her opinions and talk about her experiences has made her a symbol of hope to those trying to change conditions at the retail giant. She has spoken out consistently to groups around the country, raising awareness of the need to transform Walmart’s relationship with its workers.

Green says that everything she does is for her co-workers and her family. And while she clearly inspired many with her words at the June 30 action, Green herself drew strength from the support of the crowd.

“Knowing that everyone stood in solidarity made it easier,” said Green. “It made me feel empowered, [seeing] that I wasn’t alone.”

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