Walkouts at seven Walmart stores in Dallas

Walkouts at seven Walmart stores in Dallas

Workers have today walked off the job at seven branches of Walmart across Dallas. The workers then joined protests outside, demanding that workers are paid a minimum of $25,000 a year. The action organised by the ‘OUR Walmart’ campaign has been played down by company lickspittles, who claim that very few employees have been involved, and that busloads of pickets had been transported between stores to boost numbers.

These latest walkouts follow on from similar wildcat actions in Chicago, Seattle, Los Angeles, Cincinnati, and Miami. They are planning more of the same on ‘Black Friday’, traditionally the biggest shopping day of the year, which signals the start of the Christmas shopping period.

A toadying Walmart spokesperson claimed that:

“Few associates have participated in these actions because they understand the truth about working for Walmart, that it provides more opportunities for career advancement and economic security than any other company in the country. Despite similar tactics from activists on Black Friday last year, we had one of our best events ever.”

Just to reiterate what I wrote in a recent blog post about Walmart organising food collections for their workers:

Quote:
“Walmart is one of the largest and most profitable organisations in the world, yet pays over 450,000 of their valued ‘associates’ less than the federal poverty line ($23,550). Workers at an average sized Walmart store receive $1.2 million a year in welfare payments to take them above the poverty line.”

Earlier this week, the ‘National Labour Relations Board ‘said they would be filing complaints against Walmart due to the bullying and intimidation of Walmart employees who participated in last years ‘Black Friday’ strikes, as workers across dozens of stores had been dismissed, disciplined, and(or) surveilled.

Sarita Gupta, a spokesperson from ‘Jobs with Justice’, said that:

Quote:
“The board's decision confirms what Walmart workers have long known -- the company is illegally trying to silence employees who speak out for better jobs,"

Solidarity with everyone at Walmart!

Posted By

working class s...
Nov 21 2013 18:10

Share


  • These latest walkouts follow on from similar wildcat actions in Chicago, Seattle, Los Angeles, Cincinnati, and Miami.

Attached files

Comments

iexist
Nov 21 2013 18:35

The begining of a new wave of proletarian rebellion. It seems to reinforce my idea about regional strikes.

Steven.
Nov 21 2013 21:47

Thanks for posting this. And I know that is the word of a company spokesman, but I wonder how much truth there is to it. As the other recent "strikes" at Walmart stores haven't been well observed. Did it shut the stores, for example?

There has been a good recent discussion about the strikes, which have been organised in a pretty top-down way by the unions, here in the forums:
http://libcom.org/forums/north-america/recent-fast-food-strikes-11052013

so it is positive that some people are trying to do something about low pay and precariousness in the retail sector, however unfortunately the picture is not all rosy

Hieronymous
Nov 22 2013 00:38

Yeah, I completely agree with Steven. It's disingenuous to call these un-spontaneous choreographed media-savvy rallies "strikes," let alone "wildcat strikes."

The main reason being the most accepted definition of a wildcat is:

American Heritage Dictionary wrote:
A workers' strike unauthorized by their union.
syndicalist
Nov 22 2013 03:24

I will find the Miami and Dallas follow-ups to be of interest, Mainly cause they're areas traditionally low union density cities.

Pennoid
Nov 22 2013 03:53

Yeah, this ain't a wildcat ya'll!

Hieronymous
Nov 24 2013 07:00

Post deleted [Hieronymous]

Chilli Sauce
Nov 22 2013 08:02

Let's not get too semantic here.

I will admit that when I saw "wildcat" I was really hoping it meant self-organised. These are obviously OurWalmart backed and orchestrated actions. However, there is not union recognition at the stores. So, in another sense of the word, they are wildcats.

And, come on, we know WCSO isn't offering solidarity to bosses or managers or union hacks. We understand that.

Although I have worked in admin in a school and I don't think that makes me a class enemy (as long as we're being pedantic wink )

working class s...
Nov 22 2013 13:13

Yeah, perhaps I have jumped the gun a bit, but whatever I wrote it was certainly not a deliberate attempt to deceive (disingenuous), and, no, I do not offer solidarity to the bosses.

Hieronymous
Nov 24 2013 07:02
Chilli Sauce wrote:
However, there is not union recognition at the stores. So, in another sense of the word, they are wildcats.

The decision makers in these actions are class collaborationist union piecards like Joe Hanson (look up his role in the Hormel P-9 Strike & the 2003-2004 Southern California Grocery Strike, both bitter defeats where union bosses undermined the initiative of the rank-and-file), who call the shots from UFCW headquarters in Washington, DC. Account reads like seeded into the mainstream seem like press release because that's exactly what they are, written by Berlin Rosen the New York PR firm that is directing the OUR Walmart and fast food campaign.

Here I defer to the definition of Joe Burns in his excellent book Reviving the Strike. He talks about "traditional strikes" that attempted to stop production, which since the 1980s have become almost extinct. Since these hasn't been much analysis, we have no idea how many workers are involved at each store -- or whether any workers are involved at all. The most important question is: who are the marchers-on-the-media?

Burns contrasts traditional strikes with these media events, which he calls "management-inspired" strikes. The average Walmart store in the U.S. has 225 workers, but since the Berlin Rosen keeps the actual number of currently employed Walmart workers involved in these marches-on-the-media a secret, we can't be sure these are even management-inspired-strikes -- since there might not be any workers withholding their labor.

Hence all we can see, without any analysis of the class dynamic involved, is press conferences. Hard to call those strikes, let alone "wildcats." So yes, the accounts in the media are disingenuous.

Ed
Nov 22 2013 16:19

Everything you said could well be true, Hieronymous (I personally think you're probably right) but just to put my TEFL hat on (a hat I know you've got as well), 'disingenuous' means a lack of sincerity, a calculated attempt to deceive.. synonyms include 'dishonest'.. I can guarantee a million percent that this isn't the case with WCSO.. if anything, I think it's good that this article is here with your comments below it to explain the reality of what's going on..

Juan Conatz
Nov 22 2013 18:11

I think that's one definition of wildcat. But also. Wildcats are done qith a kind of ' wink, wink' from union leadership, such as the teacher sickouts in Madison in 2011

Hieronymous
Nov 24 2013 07:04

My intent is to dig beneath the spectacular myth-making going on with the OUR Walmart/UFCW--Fast Food/SEIU campaign.

What is the level of working class agency -- or self-activity, or self-organization? How many workers are actually removing themselves from the labor process? If none, then it's simply not a strike.

On Black Friday, 2012, I went to 4 different Walmarts and there was not a single worker from any of those stores who had actually walked out -- or stopped working in any way -- to participate. How are these recent events any different? What I'm calling for is analysis.

And I do think that OUR Walmart/UFCW--Fast Food/SEIU and Berlin Rosen are disingenuous. Sorry to imply it about WCSO.

Hieronymous
Nov 24 2013 07:11

Again, my apologies for coming off harsh and judgmental. To be clear, I don't think Working Class Self-Organization was being disingenuous. But for more than a year there have been several well-detailed and lengthy threads about all this -- with hundreds of posts -- here on libcom. And back then I felt ganged up on, with comments implying I was being unfair, that I was being inaccurate. Optimists, ignoring the facts, were saying that these campaigns are an "opening," and with the focus on their struggles, Walmart/fast food workers would start taking the initiative and it could open the door for working class self-activity and a class-based movement for all casualized service workers.

I've read as much as I can about these industries, as well as gone to several of these actions. And researched who the players are. And frankly, it's all underwhelming.

And no one seems willing to admit that both the fast food (with different names in different regions; one of the more common ones is Fight for $15) and the Walmart campaigns are the same. Not similar, but the same. As in run by the same Madison Avenue PR firm: Berlin Rosen. And run as a single campaign with 2 fronts.

Here's the fast food/Walmart campaign case study, "Low Wage Work: Driving Labor's New Frontier," from the Berlin Rosen website:

The Challenge

Berlin Rosen wrote:
The American labor market has hollowed out for decades, shedding many of the well-paying jobs that helped to build the country's middle class. Even as the economy recovers slowly from the Great Recession, most new jobs are low paying ones that can barely support a family. These workers are increasingly organizing themselves to fight for their rights. In 2012, we were approached by coalitions organizing Wal-Mart workers and fast food workers [actually it's the unions, SEIU and UFCW, who are paying the multi-million dollar bills - Hieronymous] to help plan and publicize a series of historic strikes to highlight the plight of low-wage workers and move corporate employers to provide livable wages.

The BerlinRosen Approach

Berlin Rosen wrote:
Working hand-in-hand with the Walmart worker and fast food campaigns we developed a strategic communications plan that positioned the campaigns and emerging worker organizing as real solutions to rising inequality. When the ground actions took place—the first-ever strikes targeting Walmart, and the largest-ever strike of New York City fast food workers—BerlinRosen amplified the actions nationally, activating a network of engaged and informed reporters to tell the bigger story.

The Outcome

Berlin Rosen wrote:
Just about every major national media outlet covered the campaigns—from segments on ABC's "Good Morning America" and MSNBC's "Up with Chris Hayes" to lengthy articles in "Bloomberg" and "The Nation". The widespread media coverage of the Walmart and fast food campaigns created a platform that didn't exist just months prior. Media exposure around Walmart helped to galvanize 30,000 protesters across the country in support of striking Walmart workers, activating tens of thousands more online. Coverage of the fast food strikes, which encompassed dozens of stores, led workers in hundreds of additional outlets to engage with the campaign. And when a month later Walmart rolled out proposals to address mounting questions about its employment and business practices, "Business Week" noted the link to the campaign: “Wal-Mart tries to improve its battered image,” the headline read.
Berlin Rosen wrote:
What they said: The New York Times called the strikes against McDonald's, Burger King and other restaurants “the biggest wave of job actions in the history of America's fast-food industry.” In a cover story, Bloomberg BusinessWeek wrote that the emergence of OUR Walmart, which led the first-ever strikes against the retail giant, posed the “most potent challenge yet” to the company's low-wage, anti-union business model. The story proclaimed that the workers had “gotten Walmart's attention.”

Adam Weaver pegged this a while back: A $10,000,000+ "March on the Media."

Not class struggle. And intentionally not so.