Union-Backed Walmart Work Action a Fizzle
November 23, 2012 - 2:34 pm
If the goal of the Walmart workers who walked out on Black Friday was to disrupt business and raise awareness among shoppers, their protest was a dud.
The company reported the largest Black Friday in its history and shoppers were far more concerned in bargains than in store employees bargaining
Protesters demanding higher wages and better healthcare for Walmart hourly workers converged on the retailer’s stores across the United States, though there was no evidence they disrupted operations for the start of the crucial holiday shopping season.
OUR Walmart, an organization backed by the United Food & Commercial Workers (UFCW) union, said “hundreds and hundreds of workers” walked off the job on “Black Friday,” the unofficial start of the holiday shopping season which accounts for up to half the annual profit of some retailers.
At a Walmart on Chicago’s South side, just one employee from the store’s nearly 500 staff took part in the demonstration, according to Wal-Mart Stores Inc, the world’s largest retailer.
Outside the store, four busloads of protesters chanted in a demonstration that started almost an hour later than planned. The demonstration was peaceful, according to police and store security.
OUR Walmart said it counted 1,000 protests in 46 U.S. states, including strikes in 100 cities – figures that Walmart said were “grossly exaggerated.”
Many of the demonstrators were not Walmart workers, but were supporters such as Candice Justice, a retired teacher who stood with dozens of others in Chicago on Friday morning.
“We estimate that less than 50 associates participated in the protest nationwide. In fact, this year, roughly the same number of associates missed their scheduled shift as last year,” Walmart U.S. Chief Executive Bill Simon said in a statement.
The team organizing the protests disagreed.
“Right now there are hundreds and hundreds currently on strike,” Dan Schlademan, director of Making Change at Walmart, a campaign anchored by the UFCW, said on Friday afternoon. He said he could not provide a specific number of striking workers.
Protests were planned across the country in places including Miami, Washington, D.C., Wisconsin and California.
There is a time and a place for everything. Work actions on the busiest day of the year is the wrong time and the wrong place. Do workers really believe this kind of activism will make Walmart more likely to bargain with them? If so, they are getting very bad advice from the United Food and Commercial Workers Union who are trying to unionize employees.
Lying about how effective your protest has been is another no-no — especially since it was obvious to all how much of an egg was laid around the country. In short, this particular protest was better left on the White Board.