Friday, November 23, 2012

Black Friday protests at Walmart

A splinter organization launched by the United Food and Commercial Workers union is launching a series of protests and walkouts at Walmarts across the country today, to protest the dire working conditions at Walmart.  All I have to say is, good luck with that.  I am deeply sympathetic with the many who object to the business practices of Walmart, but speaking as one who happens to work for a big box myself, these companies have made thwarting union movements into an art form.  This movement will almost certainly be crushed like a gnat by Walmart, and all it will do is make the lives of the workers who choose to participate in this even worse than they already are. 

Last year, Target had something similar happen in Valley Stream, a town in Nassau Country, not that far from the city.  The same union that is organizing the Black Friday Walmart protests, the United Food and Commercial Workers union, organized a union drive amongst Target employees in Valley Stream.  They did make significant progress, to the point where there was a formal vote on whether the store would be able to be unionized.  The vote failed, amongst accusations of intimidation by Target and threats that the store would close.  One employee that I know of was terminated who was instrumental in trying to get the union into Target.  Later, a judge ordered a new election due to proven corporate misconduct.  Target responded by closing the Valley Stream store for "renovations". 

I do recall reading somewhere that closing a Target store for renovations is pretty unprecedented; any remodeling that is done is usually done when the store is closed at night, while it stays open during the day.  Who knows if the store will even reopen at all?  This is just one example of the lengths that big-box corporations will go to avoid unionization in their stores.  I do not think the near-term prognosis for unions is good.  Since America's manufacturing base is pretty much dead, they are trying to find a foothold in the service sector and that is immensely difficult due to the very strong push back by the owners in that sector. 

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