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Striking Walmart workers hold signs saying
After walkouts spread to Walmart stores in 12 states Tuesday, one of the groups organizing workers told Steven Greenhouse that they have no intention of stopping:
Mr. Schlademan, director of the union-backed Making Change at Walmart campaign, added that more than 200 employees were traveling to Wal-Mart’s headquarters in Bentonville, Ark., to stage a protest on Wednesday during the company’s annual meeting with financial analysts.

He warned that disgruntled Wal-Mart employees, joined by labor unions and community groups, might stage a combined protest and educational campaign the Friday after Thanksgiving, the traditional start of the holiday shopping season.

People lined up waiting to get into stores on Black Friday would make excellent targets for an educational campaign. The activists carrying out the campaign would be removed from the vicinity as quickly as Walmart could manage it, but they might be able to distribute a good bit of literature and have a few quick conversations before that happened. Multiply that by a couple dozen stores, and it at least represents a continuing escalation and broadening of the campaign against Walmart's abusive practices.

A Walmart spokesman once again insisted that Walmart retail jobs are just fantastic: "We have some of the best jobs in retail. Our full-time average wage is $12.54 an hour, which is $5 above the federal minimum wage." Note the dodge: That's the full-time average wage (supposedly). But Walmart won't say how many of its workers are full-time and how many are part-time, and part-time workers report making far less.

The numbers of workers walking out of their Walmart jobs to protest remain small—88 on Tuesday, 63 at California stores last Thursday, and dozens more at warehouses in Illinois and California. But though their numbers are small in the context of the behemoth that is Walmart, they are doing something Walmart has never before faced, and what they're doing takes a courage and conviction it's hard to understand if you've never faced the kind of intimidation, oppression, and exploitation they live every day on the job.

Efforts to unionize Walmart workers a store at a time have repeatedly failed and aren't likely to be successful without major changes in labor law. The new strategy appears to be putting pressure on the company to stop its worst abuses, from wage theft to unsafe working conditions to rampant gender discrimination, and applying that pressure all up and down the supply chain, using government regulators and the courts to address law-breaking and building coalitions between workers, faith and community groups, and consumers. The sad fact is that, at this point, this is a campaign to bring Walmart within the law. And succeeding—just getting it to obey the law—would be a huge step forward.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Labor on Wed Oct 10, 2012 at 07:25 AM PDT.

Also republished by Invisible People, In Support of Labor and Unions, Anti-Capitalist Chat, Progressive Hippie, ClassWarfare Newsletter: WallStreet VS Working Class Global Occupy movement, and Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Walmart average wage (17+ / 0-)

    The Walton family walks into a room with 100 people and all of a sudden everyone averages out to be a millionaire.

    Averages don't mean a fucking thing.

    This is your world These are your people You can live for yourself today Or help build tomorrow for everyone -8.75, -8.00

    by DisNoir36 on Wed Oct 10, 2012 at 07:37:50 AM PDT

  •  I think this is awesome (11+ / 0-)

    Even the threat of it is awesome.  This is capitalism and free markets at work, labor is also an asset that exerts market pressures.  As Larry Summers (clears throat and spits) once said about falling wages, people are beginning to experience the reality of their true market value.

  •  get people in line (7+ / 0-)

    Nee to also plant a few non-employee "customers" in the line waiting to get into the stores on Black Friday. That way, when strikers are "removed" by Wal-Mart, the people in line acting as customers can start soft-selling the same information to other people in line.

    •  My thought was to arrange a method of getting (6+ / 0-)

      employees to stores other than those they work at.  Less chance of being recognized before accomplishing something and less chance of getting fired for it.  It would require a lot of organization and some financial resources to arrange the transportation, but seems it would be safer.

      "If you trust you are not critical; if you are critical you do not trust" by our own Dauphin

      by gustynpip on Wed Oct 10, 2012 at 08:03:36 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  As you noted (15+ / 0-)

    Laura,  you have to read between what isn't said.

    But Walmart won't say how many of its workers are full-time and how many are part-time, and part-time workers report making far less.

    Now, for my store, this is the truth. The MAJORITY of the store is part time, and full-time is considered 33 hours, UNLESS you were grandfathered in before the policy went in place and only work 28 hours a week. In addition, there is a mandatory full-time hiring/promotion freeze going on at the store right now. For example, I am full-time, I have been offered a promotion three times that I turned down, because I would have to switch to part-time hours, and also because the responsibilities increase three-fold, and my raise would be only .40 cents more. Not worth the headaches for such a measly pay-raise.  The junk health insurance I receive from Wal-mart may be junk, (I have high blood pressure but never go see the doctor, instead relying on herbs because Wal-mart's insurance wont' pay the visits) but at least if I had a catastrophic illness, I would be able to get past the gate-keepers in the ER registration office.

    Also, Wal-mart now has wage attrition
     to contend with. In 2007, they froze the pay raises for the vast majority of their work-force. It used to be that workers who stayed with the company would receive a .10 to .20 cent raise a year. However, that meant that someone who stayed with the company could end up at the end of 20 or 30 years making $20.00 or more dollars an hour just being a cashier.  Well, Wal-mart can't have that kind of labor costs, so they capped the pay raises for each position. If you are a cashier, you will never be able to earn money above $10.51 an hour. That is the cap. Wal-mart's PR goons and Kool-aid dispensers tell us it's to make sure we don't stay stuck in a position we have out-grown, and to move us up through the ranks. Most of us know that it's to keep labor costs down for Wal-mart.

    •  Also, (5+ / 0-)

      it should be noted that the "lifers' at Wal-mart find cashiering-where most of the long-time workforce stays on-find cashiering to work out for them personally. We have grandmothers who are raising their grandchildren, children who provided for their elderly parents,who need a low stress-as in I don't have to take work home with me-jobs the store provides.

      Too suddenly be capped and realize you will never receive another merit pay-raise because your complicated personal life mandates that you not move up to hourly management is quite a shock.

    •  It's class war (6+ / 0-)

      We must start winning.

      And as it turns out, winning a debate is surprisingly easy when a candidate decides he can say anything and expect to get away with it. -Rachel Maddow

      by mrobinson on Wed Oct 10, 2012 at 08:07:07 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I wonder if this is the company policy everywhere. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      JayRaye, Larsstephens

      The local WM here has very similar policies in place right now too.

      Now, for my store, this is the truth. The MAJORITY of the store is part time, and full-time is considered 33 hours, UNLESS you were grandfathered in before the policy went in place and only work 28 hours a week. In addition, there is a mandatory full-time hiring/promotion freeze going on at the store right now.

      Just give me some truth. John Lennon--- OWS------Too Big To Fail

      by burnt out on Wed Oct 10, 2012 at 08:36:15 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  No. Wanna stoke more anti-union sentiment? (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    rowanleigh, rebel ga, karmsy
    People lined up waiting to get into stores on Black Friday would make excellent targets for an educational campaign.
    Harsh the post-Thanksgiving mellow.  Get between shoppers in line and the front door at midnight when the doors open.  Believe me, most people in line at WalMart at midnight on Black Friday are going to be less than receptive to a pro-union message.
  •  I shopped with Walmart, I knew Walmart, Walmart (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    rowanleigh, Oh Mary Oh, Larsstephens

    Walmart was a friend of my pocketbook. Workers of Walmart, you will be simply replaced.,_you're_no_Jack_Kennedy
    Bentsen: Senator, I served with Jack Kennedy, I knew Jack Kennedy, Jack Kennedy was a friend of mine. Senator, you're no Jack Kennedy. (Prolonged shouts ...
    Context - Transcript - Aftermath - Legacy

    "If the past sits in judgment on the present, the future will be lost." Winston Churchill

    by Kvetchnrelease on Wed Oct 10, 2012 at 07:52:09 AM PDT

  •  In the past couple of years-- (13+ / 0-)

    to provide a bit of context--this venue has covered several citizen grassroots uprisings, from the stuff in Wisconsin, to Occupy Wall Street, to "malcontent" agitators overseas, to "malcontent" employees in the public and private sector. I like it. I like it very much. The corporate media won't touch these phenomena, and that's why the corporate media are becoming irrelevant.

    Thanks for the diary. I'd love for this to catch on the way Occupy Wall Street has.

    It's here they got the range/ and the machinery for change/ and it's here they got the spiritual thirst. --Leonard Cohen

    by karmsy on Wed Oct 10, 2012 at 07:52:41 AM PDT

  •  I loathe shopping and WalMart most of all (9+ / 0-)

    I do most of my shopping online, including groceries (Peapod). I also loathe crappy employers, and there is a Walmart near my house. If there is a protest on Black Friday I will show up.

  •  Living wage ? Wallmart pushing poverty wages. (11+ / 0-)

    It's one thing when a mom and pop business is having a tough time just making a profit, and not being able to pay workers what would be considered a living wage.  It's another thing when one of the most successful and wealthiest companies in the world decides to keep it's workers at poverty pay level.  The owners and it's family are the most wealthiest within the U.S.  

    This is greed.  Pure evil greed.  

    People who shop at wallmart should really think twice.

    Wallmart has made it perfectly acceptable for successful businesses  to hire workers and pay them minimum wage, no benefits, and limit their working hours to prevent any chance of health or dental benefits.

    Greed.  Pure evil greed is how the Wallmart family operates.   They are very Un American.

    " With religion you can't get just a little pregnant"

    by EarTo44 on Wed Oct 10, 2012 at 07:58:12 AM PDT

    •  Except for a few supermarkets and (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      JayRaye, Larsstephens, EarTo44

      two dollar stores, walmart is about the only other store here in this small NH town, where I'm temporarily residing.

      I only go there a couple of times a year. When I'm really broke. Too much junk from China.

      But I won't be there again until this strike is settled in favor of the employees

      Brought To You By That Crazed Sociologist/Media Fanatic rebel ga Be The Change You Want To See In The World! Gandhi

      by rebel ga on Wed Oct 10, 2012 at 08:40:07 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I can't stand Walmart (6+ / 0-)

    bastards are moving into a store just down the street from me.  

    Shut down Walmart.  There should be no room for a slave factory like them anywhere.  

    "Love One Another" ~ George Harrison

    by Damnit Janet on Wed Oct 10, 2012 at 08:07:25 AM PDT

    •  Communities fight to keep them out (8+ / 0-)

      Walmart destroys small towns. I saw this while touring southern states. In town after town, there was a highway ring around the the town with Walmart the star of the ring. Traffic bypassed the town center, then I saw store fronts boarded up or selling "collectables" [all the stuff from peoples' attics]. The only viable buildings: city hall, county court house, the post office, and the banks.

      All those pretty Southern town squares you see in movies - empty. This was in the 90's. Imagine post-Great Recession.

      And as it turns out, winning a debate is surprisingly easy when a candidate decides he can say anything and expect to get away with it. -Rachel Maddow

      by mrobinson on Wed Oct 10, 2012 at 08:19:05 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  yes (6+ / 0-)

    Lets go its about time that the Unions started actively supporting wal mart employees and finding ways to make it easier for workers to walk out in protest knowing they have the financial and emotional backing of their communities and the Unions.  go UCFW, as a former grocery store employee they are a very committed union and I hope they succeed, even though i doubt it, i still hope they succeed in forcing wal mart to either unionize or get out of communities that will no longer tolerate what could arguably be compared to serfdom.

    •  Corporations breaking labor laws (5+ / 0-)

      Even the non-profit "Christian" agency I worked for broke the labor law right to form a union. We were harassed by the bosses, but they had to let us hold an election. We won with a majority, but then they "delayed" negotiating with us, then declared after a year that our union was no longer viable and demanded another election, which won by 100%.  I had long since been fired.

      The best thing to know going into the attempt to form a union: labor law, because they will lie to you about what you were allowed to do. And they hate you. Be prepared for that hate from former "friends."

      And as it turns out, winning a debate is surprisingly easy when a candidate decides he can say anything and expect to get away with it. -Rachel Maddow

      by mrobinson on Wed Oct 10, 2012 at 08:25:47 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  best way to shut down Walmart is for folks.... (0+ / 0-)

    to chose not to work there... and for us not to spend money there.  But let's face it... they are hiring and folks chose to work there.  

  •  Meanwhile Costco... (4+ / 0-)

    Which has a much better reputation for employee treatment, is up $4.36 to an all time high in the Stock Market on strong sales.

    There are some things that make me go hmm... about some items sold at Costco, but clearly there is no proof that employee abuse is a requirement for a strong business.

    Wal-Mart would claim that if they had to raise pay they would need to raise prices. BS. They would have to reduce their profits, if they raised prices customers would start to look elsewhere, and there are margins available to cut.

  •  Atlantic City rejects Walmart bid (4+ / 0-)
    The Atlanta City Councilyesterday voted against allowing a proposed development of 22-acre site near the Lindbergh MARTA station in Buckhead that would have included a Walmart.

    Both a land use ordinance and companion zoning paper — including changes that would have allowed Walmart to become a part of the mixed-used development — came up for vote in yesterday's full Council meeting.

    And as it turns out, winning a debate is surprisingly easy when a candidate decides he can say anything and expect to get away with it. -Rachel Maddow

    by mrobinson on Wed Oct 10, 2012 at 08:34:29 AM PDT

  •  boooo (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JayRaye, Larsstephens

    i pass a huge walmart every time i go out to shop, i always kind of smile because instead i go to ALDI's and Goodwill which are conveniently located 100 feet from eachother.  If you need cheap scripts Walgreens is starting to get on par with Walmart.  So i just dont see a reason to go there.....besides, ALDI's is the best, good wages for workers, cheap tasty food, accept food stamps, etc etc

  •  Walmart brings down wages across the board (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    My son worked in Grocery for several years, at the time it was a decent job and he was bringing in about 35-38k a year. Then Walmart opened two 'super stores' within 5 miles of the store he worked at.  His store was union as were most of the other grocery stores in the area so they couldn't arbitrarily cut existing employees wages, but what they did was cut their hours from 40 to 26 and start a new wage rate for new hires which was around $9 an hour.  My son got smart left grocery and went back to college and got his degree in accounting..but how of his co-workers didn't have that opportunity and are still working for almost half the wages they received before Walmart came to town? And what did we get in return? Big ugly stores filled with junk we don't need and meat filled with nitrogen so it stays red forever even when it rots...

  •  My sister and WalMart (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    scribeboy, zinger99, emidesu, Larsstephens

    My sister had worked at either Sam's Clubs or Walmarts for almost 15 years.  Her last position was in Phenix City, AL.  On the day she was fired, she was called into the manager's office for the news.  He told her that he had been provided a list of names of people to fire and he was told that if he didn't fire the people he would be fired instead.  The reason? The people on the list were long time employees that made over $14 per hour.  They could almost hire two new people for each person fired.  My sister knew something like this was coming as they had basically made her life miserable in the preceding months.  They made her work split shifts...forced her into a schedule that they knew conflicted with her responsibilities as a mother.  They were trying to get her to quit.  But my sister took everything they could throw at her and kept working...because SHE NEEDED THE JOB.  My sister never finished high school and doesn't even have a GED.  Her job prospects in life are pretty slim, so a $15/hr job, even a hard one, is pretty good.  She told the boss she was a hard worker (she an almost inhuman extent) and basically begged to keep the job. The manager was crying.  He told her "officially" she was being fired for being tardy and late for clocking two minutes.  The problem with that is my sister was late for clocking in because she was expected to be at work 20 minutes early for preshift duties.  Sometimes she was in the middle of doing those activities and couldn't clock in right at the designated minute.  Of course she wasn't allowed to clock in the moment she actually entered the store.  She also had to remain after clocking out for some additional time.  The real kick in the nuts: because her firing was linked to poor performance she was told she wasn't eligible for unemployment.  She tried to fight this but to no avail.  Several months later she lost her house.  She tried cleaning homes to make extra money, but it just wasn't enough income.  She has now moved back to our childhood home town hoping to restart her life (in her early 50s with two teenage children).  I hate fucking Walmart.

    "When a nation goes down, or a society perishes, one condition may always be found; they forgot where they came from. They lost sight of what had brought them along." --Carl Sandburg

    by Mote Dai on Wed Oct 10, 2012 at 09:23:22 AM PDT

  •  Organized labor (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    would do well to concentrate on Target, rather than Walmart.   The geography of Target's store locations would give labor a better advantage.  

  •  I don't shop Walmart and I sent them a letter (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    telling corporate that.  Of course, I didn't get a reply.

    Acceleration is a thrill, but velocity gets you there

    by CarolinNJ on Wed Oct 10, 2012 at 10:57:30 AM PDT

  •  Caution about meeting with HR (0+ / 0-)

    I heard the Management person telling the strikers to meet individually with the HR director.

    I have played this game before with a corporate entity who was trying to break the union,  public employee in Wisconsin.  It was a brutal hour and a half to break us individually.

    Together you have enough clout to be equals.  Individually you will be battered and bruised as well as set up as a "trouble maker".  If you choose to meet try to do so at a public site where both sides are equals.

    Good luck.  My heart goes out to you.  I will be supportive where ever you work.

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