Dozens of Walmart employees and their supporters protested for higher wages on Friday outside the Walmart store where President Obama was inside, praising the giant retailer for its commitment to expand solar development in stores and distribution centers.
They say the issue isn’t the company’s green record they're upset with, but they find Obama's backdrop for renewable energy - a Walmart in Mountain View - hypocritical because of the compnay's track record on low wages - especially because the administration has been fighting for higher minimum wages.
“He’s ignoring that their workers are starving and being mistreated day in and day out," said Walmart employee Dominic Ware. "We wish he was here speaking out on those issues. Since it’s not the topic of discussion, we’re going to make it the topic of discussion.”
He and others say their wages are not enough to live on.
“I have to depend on everything, any resource out there," said Walmart employee Charmaine Given. "Food pantries. I have to go to government assistance to get my utilities paid. I work for Walmart and have been there for nine years.”
Walmart workers were joined by labor groups.
“I’m tired of subsidizing Walmart," said Carol Sturholm, a member of the United Food and Commercial Workers. "Bad wages that they pay, that their employees work a 40-hour week and still qualify for food stamps.”
Almost everyone at the protest said they worked hard to get Obama elected - and now, they just feel let down.
“It just breaks my heart to know that somebody I voted for two times, who I really thought was bringing about change for the working class, is still ignoring us," Ware said, and then comes in and "shows Walmart appreciation.”