Five Basic Reasons to Support Actions by Walmart Workers

by Martin Kich

walmartstrikeSLAP1. Walmart has 8,500 stores in 15 countries. In 2012, it was the leading international corporation in terms of gross revenues, at $447 billion. The corporation’s net income was $12.7 billion. To put those numbers in perspective, its gross revenues slightly exceed the GDP of Argentina, which according to the International Monetary Fund has the 27th largest GDP among nations of the world. Its net income is as large as or larger than the GDP of 69 of the 184 nations recognized by the United Nations. In addition to being the largest retailer in both the world and the U.S., Walmart has become the largest U.S. grocery chain.

2. The Walmart family still owns 48% of Walmart’s stock. Their combined personal wealth was estimated in 2010 at $89.5 billion. To put that number in perspective, the Walton family’s wealth would place them 63rd on the list of nations by GDP. Their wealth is the equivalent of the annual economic output of the entire state of Nebraska. The Walton family’s wealth is the equivalent of the combined wealth of the bottom 41.5 percent of American families. Continue reading

Big Walmart protests planned for Thursday, protesting low wages and fired activists

Walmart_2_cropped

by Laura Clawson

Workers who’ve been fired by Walmart for their activism set a Labor Day deadline for Walmart to rehire them and raise wages to a livable level, or see the largest mobilization against Walmart since Black Friday. Well, of course Walmart didn’t rehire the 20 workers it fired after they went on strike in June, or rescind other discipline against dozens more worker activists. And it certainly didn’t raise wages. So what’s next? Protests in 15 cities, coming this Thursday. Continue reading

The Worst and Best of 2012

by Amy B. Dean

Amy B. Dean

Amy B. Dean

This was a tumultuous year for working people and their families. From the grassroots uprisings last winter to the low-wage workers’ strikes at year’s end, 2012 saw many people coming together for the first time and finding their voices. Below are the items that I would highlight as the best and worst developments of 2012 in the world of labor and progressive social movements. Continue reading

What Occupy Wall Street did in real time @ForRespect is going to do for real lives.

by Jim Nichols

(Nov 24) So I’ve got final papers for class to write so I don’t really have time to do the kind of in-depth structured/well-edited blog post I want to write on yesterday’s historic Walmart strike and the solidarity picket lines held all across the country.

Instead I’m going to throw out some of my thoughts and some of the pictures I shot from yesterday’s action here in Atlanta. Hopefully it’ll come out clear and coherent enough for you.

Pardon my ramble…

As someone who was watching the Occupy Wall Street movement quite closely from right out of the gate I can say that I’m feeling the same level of excitement with what transpired all across the nation yesterday that I felt with Occupy.

I remember sitting at the Occupy Atlanta General Assembly the weekend before OA voted to occupy the park being simply overwhelmed with enthusiasm.

I also remember quite clearly driving back into the suburbs that evening to meet up for dinner with the wife and some friends and being struck with internal confusion about the fact that neither my wife nor friends could really care less, nor quite catch on from my slight pokes and prods about the reasons for my jovial excitement in regards to what was about to blow up here in Atlanta.

I feel a similar sense of excitement about the efforts by employees at Walmart @ForRespect.

Continue reading

Walmart Organizing Comes of Age: An Interview With UFCW Organizing Director Pat O’Neill

by Amy Dean

United Food and Commercial Workers’ Pat O’Neill talks about the difficulty of organizing retail and the new tactics that have been developed, shoppers’ support and Walmart workers’ extraordinary courage in the rolling actions leading up to Black Friday.

This fall has witnessed a wave of rolling strikes and other employee actions at America’s largest private-sector employer: Walmart. The actions, spread across more than a dozen cities, have been the first in the retailer’s 50-year history. This week, things are set to get bigger: Walmart associates across the country are now promising pickets, leafleting, and creative flash mobs on and around Black Friday, the busiest shopping day of the year.

One of the main groups involved in planning the actions has been OUR Walmart, a labor-community organization for Walmart employees, backed by the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW). Rather than going through the arduous process of forming a traditional union by signing up majorities in each store, they have developed a more flexible process for employees to get involved early on. Smaller groups can use OUR Walmart to take collective action to advocate for rights and for better conditions. Such advocacy harkens back to the early days of the US labor movement, before the labor laws of the New Deal institutionalized processes for collective bargaining. It may also be a bellwether for future employee action, reflecting an age in which labor law has again failed to catch up with the reality of the American economy.

To get inside insight on the new activism taking place at Walmart, I talked with UFCW Organizing Director Pat O’Neill. We discussed the rolling strikes, the revived use of “minority unions,” and why OUR Walmart is not calling for a boycott.

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Walmart Warehouse Workers in Elwood, IL Demand an End To Illegal Retaliation

Unfair Labor Practice Charges Are Filed with the National Labor Relations Board 

Warehouse Workers for Justice

 Wednesday November 14, 2012,  warehouse workers filed charges of unfair labor practices against four employers operating Walmart’s largest distribution center located in Elwood, IL.

Schneider Logistics, Roadlink Workforce Solutions, Select Remedy and Skyward Employment Service are all charged with violating workers rights under the law.  Illegal threats, intimidation and discipline against workers organizing for improved conditions are the bases for the unfair labor practice charges filed today.

“We work hard and deserve to be paid fairly, have a safe workplace and be treated with dignity as human beings.  If Walmart thinks we will be silenced by this illegal retaliation, they are wrong” said Walmart warehouse worker Phil Bailey.

In Mira Loma, CA today dozens of warehouse workers walked off the job at a Walmart-contracted warehouse Wednesday morning to call for an end to continued retaliation against workers advocating for fair treatment and safe conditions.

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Why November 23 Is More Central to the Future of Labor Than Obama’s Election Was

by Joe Burns

 

Joe Burns

Now that the elections are over, trade unionists should be clear on one point:  President Obama’s reelection will have little effect on the long term future of unionism in the United States.  This is not to say the election was unimportant or to even argue that labor’s electoral strategy was misplaced.  Rather, it is simply to say that the decades’ long decline of unionism cannot be reversed (or even significantly impacted) by a Presidential election.   

This is not to say that the recent election did not matter.  The parties do differ on social issues, on issues of tax policy, and on limited issues of labor rights.  Nor is it to discount Republican threats, such as right to scab legislation or measures attacking public employee bargaining.   In the coming months, major battles loom such as the manufactured “fiscal cliff,” important questions of taxation, and hopefully even a fight over anti-democratic Senate filibuster rules.  All of these are important reasons for the labor movement not to simply ignore the political arena.  

It is equally important, however, that unionists be clear that the decline in union density cannot be resolved at the ballot box.   While this point may seem obvious, given labor’s constant pull towards electoral politics reviewing the reason this is the case may be useful.    

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