Eleven workers from Laurel's Walmart Supercenter joined a walkout effort Tuesday that has spread to stores in at least a dozen states, according to union officials.
Carrying signs that read "respect our freedom to speak out" and "stop silencing workers," the striking employees held a demonstration in the parking lot of the store just off of Fort Meade Road.
"We have spoken out about things like Walmart's low take-home pay, unpredictable work schedule, and unaffordable health care benefits," Walmart Associate Cindy Murray read from a statement during the protest. "I believe in a better Walmart and that attempting to retaliate against associates who want to make Walmart a better place to work takes the company in a wrong direction."
The workers recited protest songs and had a brief conversation with a store manager, who told the group that Walmart would continue not to retaliate against employees seeking to organize.
David Tovar, a spokesman for Walmart, told the New York Times that all of its 4,000-plus stores were open and adequately staffed despite the walkout, dismissing it as an attempt by unions to advance their own political agenda.
"We have some of the best jobs in retail," Tovar said. "Our full-time average wage is $12.54 an hour, which is $5.00 above the federal minimum wage."
Additional demonstrations are planned today for the Laurel, Capital Plaza, and Rhode Island Avenue (D.C.) Walmart locations.