Three residents braved the heat Saturday to hold signs and show their disdain for Wal-Mart.
“Fair Business Practices NOW,” read one of the signs, referring to the National Organization for Women. Local chapter member Seileach Corleigh organized the rally.
Corleigh, who called the rally “Justice on the Job,” said that she tries to hold a rally against Wal-Mart once every few months and that there have been five or six over the past three years. She said her primary objections to Wal-Mart are its policy of making employees work off the clock to cut down on overtime and its refusal to provide health insurance or to allow workers to form unions.
“They accept that they pay so little that employees can’t afford health insurance, so they provide information on social services,” Corleigh said.
Wal-Mart spokesperson Christi Gallagher said in a telephone interview that she believes Corleigh has “been given a lot of misinformation.” She said it is a myth that Wal-Mart encourages employees to apply for social services and said the company provides health care for 950,000 Americans. It also gives employees the choice of voting to form unions, she said.
“It’s insulting that these organizations criticize our associates, because they don’t want unions,” Gallagher said. “They can make their own intelligent decisions, and they don’t want to give their hard-earned money to a third party.”
Elaine and Roy Hartley stood with Corleigh on the lawn of a Missouri Department of Transportation facility across the drive from the parking lot of the Wal-Mart Supercenter on Conley Road. They have had booths at Columbia’s Earth Day celebration to distribute pins that read “I Don’t Shop at Wal-Mart.” Elaine Hartley said they have distributed more than 2,000 pins.
Corleigh said she had hoped more people would come to the rally, but she understood they did not want to come out in the heat.
“It’s not as important how many people come out as how many pass and see the signs we’re holding,” she said.