A workers rights advocacy group called United For Respect (formerly OURWalmart, Organization United for Respect) screened “Dear Walmart” last night at Skylight Cinema in Bentonville, headquarters of the international retail corporation.
The film was screened for a group of around 40 Walmart associates and, a press release said, it “profiles Walmart associates and their fight for respect at Walmart through OUR Walmart (now United for Respect) over the last near-decade.”
The location of the premiere — and the timing — are no consequence of film festival scheduling; “Dear Walmart” was screened at the corporation’s doorstep, and on the eve of Walmart’s 2019 Annual Shareholder’s Meeting.
U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders appeared at the shareholder’s meeting this morning to speak on an outside resolution from United For Respect, one that proposes Walmart put an hourly wage worker on its board. United for Respect filed another proposal aimed at strengthening the corporation’s sexual harassment policy and, United for Respect said, “to allow shareholders to vote to formalize more robust Board oversight of sexual harassment of Walmart associates and align senior executive compensation with plans to encourage real action.”
Here’s the “Dear Walmart” trailer:
We talked briefly with Taylor Campbell, communications director for United for Respect, about the screening and its significance.
“Dear Walmart” premiered in New York City in May, and has been beginning to make its way around the festival circuit, yes? Are there any festival screenings in the works this year?
Yes, it’s shown at festivals in D.C. and New York. While there are no other festivals planned for the year, we’re looking forward to launching a national screening tour led by Walmart associates and supporters who have volunteered to host showings in their own hometowns across the country.
Is this the first time “Dear Walmart” has been shown in Northwest Arkansas? What’s the significance of bringing it to Walmart’s doorstep, and what kind of resistance from the company do you anticipate?
This is the first time “Dear Walmart” has been screened in Northwest Arkansas. We brought the documentary to Bentonville because this is the hometown and headquarters of Walmart. Our movement has always been about unapologetically bringing the voices and stories of Walmart associates directly to Walmart’s doorstep so that they have no choice but to hear us.
I understand that several of the attendees at the screening tonight are Walmart employees who will attend the 2019 Annual Shareholders’ Meeting tomorrow in Rogers near Walmart’s headquarters. How did these folks get connected with OUR Walmart, and what sort of past actions have they participated in, in the name of workers’ rights?
Some folks have come into our community because they were invited by their coworkers. Others became involved because they found out about us through Facebook. Everyone is at a different place in their journey with United for Respect — leaders have shown up at Walmart’s e-commerce headquarters in California or Alice Walton’s penthouse in New York to demand respect and a living wage from Walmart. Some have also marched alongside Sears and Toys ‘R’ Us employees to demand severance.