As Wal Mart Employees Strike, Wal-Mart Shows The Uselessness of Unions

Wal Mart, the world’s largest store, is fighting against a workforce preparing to walkout on Black Friday. According to CNN Money, Wal-Mart has turned to close friends,the federal government, accusing one of the world’s largest labor unions in the country, Union Food and Commercial Workers Union, of unlawfully organizing its workers. The situation brings to the table the National Labor Relations Act of 1935 and related legislation, and the ultimate reality draws more parallels between the US and banana republics.

The complaint, which also names UFCW’s subsidiary OURWalmart, states that the labor union is forcing the store into collective bargaining, although it is not the “official” union for Wal Mart employees.  The UCFW is the umbrella for more than one million meat packers and food industry workers. The complaint comes ahead of nationwide walkouts planned for this coming Friday, which will be one of the biggest shopping days of the year, and Wal-Mart has a point: The UFCW is not recognized by Wal-Mart as the official union, and so thus must become the official union through a secret-ballot process through the NLRA.

But, even if this does happen, the mechanisms of union will continue to maintain their intended purposes: to protect the OG Pirates. See, the spontaneity of worker movements had to be managed to ensure actions were more predictable. Hence, Wal-Mart can make the proper adjustments to ensure a smooth Black Friday. The Union essentially functions as a means of fielding and directing, or more often re-directing anger, to be more controllable by the OG Pirates.

Union-supported groups OUR Walmart and Making Change at Wal-Mart, with the help of watchdog Corporate Action Network, are organizing against what they refer to as Wal-Mart’s retaliation against employees who speak out for better pay, fairer scheduling and affordable health care.

The planned walkouts started at a Wal-Mart in Los Angeles, quickly spreading to 12 other cities. Nonetheless, Wal-Mart spokesman David Tovar pointed out in a statement that the workers participating composed only a “very small minority” of its 1.3 million workforce.

“If [the store employees] are scheduled to work, we expect them to show up and do their job. If they don’t, depending on the circumstances, there could be consequences,” said Tovar.

Wal-Mart sent the UFCW’s general council a letter on Friday, stating that the workers’ activism is in violation of the National Labor Relations Act, which disallows picketing for more than 30 days without a filing a representation petition. The actions have disrupted business, according to Wal-Mart’s letter to the union.

“The UFCW has orchestrated numerous pickets, mass demonstrations, flash mobs and other confrontational activities both inside and outside Wal-Mart facilities in support of its bargaining and recognition demands,” wrote Wal-Mart lawyer Steven Wheeless. “Now, with the busiest shopping season of the year just days away, the UFCW is openly orchestrating and promoting attempted mass disruptions of Wal-Mart’s customer shopping experience.”

Plenty of legislation was introduced to scale back the power that the NLRA gave unions (not workers), but nothing passed until the Taft-Hartley Act of 1947. Although Truman called the act a grave threat to the First Amendment, he used it 12 times.

OURWalmart organizers say 1,000 events are planned for this week, and that support for the campaign has been gaining momentum through Facebook and YouTube.  The organization’s Facebook page now has over 28,000 ‘likes’ and its accompanying YouTube video has been watched more than 103,000 times.

The organizers have also collected more than $36,000 online donations for worker sponsorships.

“We remain focused like a laser about trying to build a bigger coalition and support workers as they build their organizations to challenge Wal-Mart stores,” said OURWalmart’s president Dan Schlademan.

Wal-Mart will keep their eye out for people “committing illegal and unprotected conduct” such as trespass.
The workers do not have any rights in their current context. They are risking their jobs, for sure. More importantly, though, they are speaking out against what they perceive as an injustice. They must continue to do this for the sanctity of life. They must become comprehensively informed of what they’re up against. If they wish to  continue their strikes in the future, they must ensure that the unions they prefer are voted in the secret-ballot of the NLRA. But, really, they’ve got to understand that unions are a way of undermining spontaneous creativity, and thus clipping any popular movement of its wings.