Approximately 40 Walmart employees walked out of an e-commerce office in California on Wednesday in an attempt to protest the company’s policy on gun sales.
The employees purportedly staged the walkout in response to the weekend’s deadly mass killing at an El Paso, Texas, store in which more than 20 people were killed and dozens more were injured.
What are the details?
The Washington Post reported that the employees walked out of the building and remained outside for 15 minutes. When the employees arrived outside, they reportedly dedicated a moment of silence to the victims of the El Paso mass killing.
Thomas Marshall, an employee at the California office who helped organize the protest, told the Post that he and his co-workers “no longer want to be complicit by working for a company that profits off the sale of firearms.”
Marshall told NBC News that Walmart should listen to its employees to effect positive change in the country.
“We are all concerned employees, and Walmart says it values the outlook of its employees,” Marshall said. “We feel as if we can make a noticeable difference.”
Marshall urged his fellow employees to participate in the walkout, and stage similar protests of their own in different stores.
Marshall said he sent a message on an internal message board within the company, as well as through email, which could have reached about 20,000 employees.
A portion of the email read:
In light of recent events, and in response to Corporate’s inaction, we are organizing a “sick out” general strike to protest Walmart’s profit from the sale of guns.
Walmart is a company that has always placed its associates and customers first, and we have recently made great strides toward fostering a safe, inclusive, and progressive community. Last year, Walmart raised the minimum age to buy a firearm or ammunition from 18 to 21 and removed products resembling assault-style rifles from its inventory. Walmart is still, however, the single largest retailer of firearms in the United States.
We have made great strides already, but now we must organize to shape this company into a place we can all be proud of. As associates, we have the power, ability, and opportunity to change this company for the better.
The outlet also reported that employees at company locations such as Brooklyn, New York, and Portland, Oregon, executed a similar protest.
Randy Hargrove, a spokesperson for the company, told the Post that he believes there are certainly “more effective channels such as email or leadership conversations” to make a point outside of walking off the job.
“The vast majority of our associates who want to share their views are taking advantage of those options,” Hargrove added.
Marshall, however, is one employee who doesn’t care if he loses his job over the protest.
“If I do wind up getting fired for this, that is a risk I am willing to take,” Marshall added.
Despite the horrific mass killing, the company does not have any current plans to nix the sale of guns in its stores or change its policies on firearms.
On Monday, Hargrove said that the company is not considering changing the policies, according to Reuters.
“There’s been no change to our policy regarding firearms,” Hargrove told NBC News. “Our focus has been on our associates and the entire El Paso community.”
The company, which is the biggest retailer of firearms in the U.S., raised the age to purchase guns from 18 to 21 years old in 2018.