Challenge to Walmart

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Challenge to Walmart

Walmart is the biggest private-sector employer in the world and the biggest company in the US, but the workers are not happy. Workers started a group called “OUR Walmart” two years ago say they will protest on Black Friday (the day after Thanksgiving and the busiest shopping day of the year). They will demand a living wage, healthcare that is cheap enough to pay for, regular work plans and no more attacks on their members.

“OUR Walmart” wants to be more successful than last year. Then, on Black Friday, 500 workers left their job and demonstrated with 30,000 others in 47 states. They stopped anyone getting through the road to a Walmart store in Los Angeles for two hours before they were arrested. 1,000 supporters were watching. This type of dramatic action has been shared in traditional and social media. So the workers all across the US are now connected and feel brave enough to fight their employer.

There were more protest actions through the year. In June, 100 workers went on strike for 2 weeks and went on bus journeys across the US. It was like the “Freedom Riders” of the civil rights movement.

Walmart is famous for not working well with the unions. They punished 50 strikers and illegally fired another 20. But “OUR Walmart” did not stop. On 5 September, they organised more protests, and more than 100 people were arrested.

It is very difficult for the workers. Walmart does not allow trades unions. They closed down stores that had union certification elections. So activists are not looking for legal recognition or collective bargaining rights. One organizer explained: ‘We are taking action now rather than waiting for the law to do something.’

As a result, Walmart has changed to allow a structure where people work together more. And a strong community has grown up. They are fighting for more group power – this might show the future of the labour movement in the US.