Walmart's Exploitation Is Nothing New, So What Made Workers Finally Fight Back?
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For Vanzell Johnson, an OUR Walmart member from Lancaster, Texas (not far from original Walmart country), faith was what made him speak out at work. “I don’t believe that we’re supposed to live in poverty, not the Father that I serve. But that’s how they got it set up,” he said. The kind of attention and respect that workers like Janet Sparks used to feel they got from the company, Johnson feels he gets instead from OUR Walmart and from working together with his colleagues to make their workplace better.
The service ethic that Walmart built its business around is now coming back to haunt it, as workers like Johnson and Sparks see organizing and fighting for better conditions as a more meaningful extension of the ideals of service. And the irony that Walmart’s expansion outside its Bible Belt roots has resulted in the greatest threat to its stable, anti-union culture, has not been lost on critics. “If you want to expand into [other] places,” said Moreton, recalling the influx of protestors from Southern California to Walmart’s Arkansas headquarters, “those are currents that are going to come all the way back to Bentonville.”