BENTONVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) – On Thursday, activists with United for Respect and Walmart associates got together to protest Walmart’s paid time off. 

“If you call in four times on the fifth time you will, more often or not, 100% be fired,” says Paula Curtis.

Curtis is currently a Walmart associate and has been for the last 22 years. She feels Walmart’s sick policies are inadequate.

“I have started to have medical problems, and I’ve had to miss work and stuff. I try not to get points. So like a lot of other associates, I just go to work anyway because I cannot afford to lose my job,” says Curtis. 

Walmart, on the other hand, believes its sick policies are adequate.

A statement we received from Jimmy Carter, Walmart spokesperson, says in part.

“We continue to encourage associates who are not feeling well to stay home. Walmart associates have access to various leave options, including Paid Time Off. Walmart’s PTO policy combines paid sick leave, vacation time, personal time, and holiday time into one category, giving associates flexibility in how to use their paid time off.”

However, Nicoshe James and her siblings disagree. Their sister Janikka Perry died at a hospital in Little Rock after calling 911 from her shift at Walmart. 

They say if their sister wasn’t fearful of losing her job, she may still be here today.

“I’m still trying to figure out how my sister did an eight-hour shift and ended up dead; it’s been a nightmare for me and my family,” says James.

Carter says, “We express our deep condolences to Ms. Perry’s family and friends. We can all agree that Ms. Perry was a valued teammate and well-liked by those in the Walmart family who knew her. We disagree with how the circumstances have been characterized publicly. Out of respect for everyone involved, we are not going to publicly discuss details further.”

In their first year, a full-time hourly associate can earn up to 72 hours of PTO plus an additional 48 hours of Protected PTO for a combined PTO total of 120 hours – that’s the equivalent of 15 paid days off. A 20-year full-time hourly associate can earn up to a combined total of 304 hours PTO– that’s the equivalent of 38 paid days off.

Associates and protesters today said what they are looking for is two weeks of paid sick leave for every Walmart employee.