Remembering retail worker labor hero Ann Marie Reinhart Smith
On February 17, 61 year old Ann Marie Reinhart Smith, a leader and member with United for Respect, passed away from COVID-19.
Ann Marie Reinhart worked for 29 years at Toys R Us before the retail chain filed for bankruptcy, shutting down her store in Durham, North Carolina along with over 700 others around the US, leaving around 30,000 workers suddenly jobless.
When she lost her job at Toys R US, Reinhart and her husband, who is diabetic, went without health insurance coverage for a year and she often had to forgo filling her own asthma prescription to ensure her husband had the insulin he needed
Reinhart and other Toys R Us workers organized with United for Respect to pressure the private equity firms that owned Toys R Us, Bain Capital and KKR, to pay laid off workers severance, as workers received nothing while executives were paid over $8 million in retention bonuses. Workers pressured state governments to pull their pension funds from the firms, which ultimately led to the firms creating a $20 million hardship fund for Toys R Us workers, who received an additional $2 million settlement as a result of a class action lawsuit. Reinhart was the plaintiff in the Toys R Us bankruptcy case.
A GoFundMe was set up to support her family during this time.