Walmart Walkouts Are Just the Start
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When asked to address those allegations, Fogleman said that the company has “strict policies prohibiting retaliation.” He adds: “If someone feels they have been retaliated against, we want to know about it, so we can look into it and take the appropriate actions to resolve the situation,” Fogleman says.
OUR Walmart isn’t trying to push for union representation for Walmart workers. The campaign is organizing behind a broad set of demands by building a network of allies and trying to pressure the company. “The fundamental difference is this isn’t a collective-bargaining organization, it’s a rights-based organization. At this point, there’s not a battle for a collective-bargaining agreement, there’s a battle to change the company,” Schlademan said of OUR Walmart. “All the other things that are the heart and soul of the labor movement and of workers’ organizing are there, which is collective action, workers pulling their resources together so they have a bigger voice, and utilizing the public to educate and build power to change the company.” As the organization builds toward a Black Friday strike, OUR Walmart is partnering with the nonprofits Engage Network and Corporate Action Network to spread the message to Walmart workers and potential allies nationwide. Organizers have set up a Web site where the general public can access a list of picket lines and “sponsor” strikers by making a donation.
Given the size of the company, it seems unlikely that the strikes will affect Walmart’s profits on one of its biggest days of the year. But whatever the participation rate proves to be on Black Friday, Schlademan said that OUR Walmart is in it for the long haul. “It’s gotta start somewhere. … Workers are having enough. You look at the sit-down strike, you look at the civil-rights movement, you look at the women’s rights movement, you look at anything, you look at Occupy, right? It started off with a few people sleeping in a park, and it grew,” Schlademan said. “So this is a process—people are building a movement inside of Walmart, and they’re building a movement outside of Walmart. What was in October was the beginning. What’s gonna happen on Black Friday will be a continuation of that … and this will just continue to build.”