SAN BRUNO, Calif. (KGO/CNN/Gray News) - Employees at the corporate Walmart offices in California and two other states staged a walkout in hopes that the company will stop selling guns.
About 40 employees walked out Wednesday for 15 minutes from the San Bruno, Calif., offices in an organized protest that included a moment of silence for those killed in two recent shooting incidents at Walmart stores, according to The Washington Post.
A white supremacist killed at least 22 people Saturday at an El Paso store, and two employees were killed July 30 in Mississippi.
"Of all the gun tragedies, this hit the closest to home for a lot of us," said Thomas Marshall, a worker at the e-commerce office in San Bruno who helped organize the protest. "I felt like I had to do something or else I would really be complicit in a company that was continuing to sell firearms."
Marshall and two co-workers called for a sick-out general strike in a message he sent through an internal Slack messaging channel an email chain that included about 20,000 people.
“We’re simply tired of living in a country where we’re fearing for our lives. It truly breaks my heart that people are walking into stores of ours, and they’re afraid," Marshall said.
Other workers at Walmart’s e-commerce offices in New York City and Portland, Ore., also took action, The Washington Post reports.
Those who could not call out sick or wear black in solidarity were encouraged to sign a petition on Change.org that calls for Walmart and its CEO Doug McMillon to stop selling guns. As of early Thursday, it had more than 43,000 signatures.
McMillon promised Tuesday in social media posts to respond to the shootings in a “thoughtful and deliberate way.”
Spokespeople for the company say there was no significant activity in response to the call for a walkout. They say employees are encouarged to offer suggestions but in “more constructive outlets.”
Walmart is one of the largest retailers of guns and ammunition in the world. The company stopped selling guns to anyone under 21 after last year’s shooting in Parkland, Florida, and it stopped selling assault-style rifles in 2015.
Company officials say Walmart’s policy on gun sales has not changed.
With 1.5 million workers, Walmart is the nation’s largest employer, according to The Washington Post.