As we approach the Holiday Season and Black Friday, there will inevitably be a number of media reports purporting that employees at large companies like Wal-Mart are striking throughout the country. Last Thanksgiving, prominent media outlets like CNN, NBC and the Huffington Post widely and falsely reported that hundreds of protests were being staged by Wal-Mart employees throughout the nation.
Before reporting the same false story this year, reporters should consider asking a few basic questions like exactly how many of these protesters are in fact Wal-Mart employees? They might be surprised to find that an overwhelming proportion of these protestors are not actually Wal-Mart employees. This should raise a suspecting eyebrow and lead to their next question: if these aren’t Wal-Mart employees, then who are they?
Many would be surprised to know that a majority of the people protesting Wal-Mart are paid protestors and or union activists. Organizations like OUR Wal-Mart are elaborate shell groups known as ‘worker centers.’ These worker centers push union interests and employ many of the same tactics as a traditional union. But what exactly is the difference between these two entities one might ask? Any neutral third party would be hard pressed to find much of a difference between the two. And that is largely because there isn’t much of a difference, except for an obscure, but notable distinction that worker centers are able to successfully sidestep labor laws that apply to union activity.
Over the past century, Congress has passed a number of laws that impose rules on union to restrain their ability to wage protracted wars against American job creators. These laws require unions to disclose their members and provide other important information, as well as establishes important protections for companies when the union doesn’t represent the employees. These laws were created because unions fought never ending wars in order to achieve their goals, often at the expense of putting a business into bankruptcy.
Yet, worker centers do not have to abide by these laws because they technically don’t fall under the definition of a labor union, despite the fact that they walk, talk and act like a union. What is perhaps most chilling is that unions funnel large sums of money to these worker centers, enabling them to carry out a union’s will with great ease. In 2012, Service Employees International Union gave $2.5 million to New York Communities for Change, a worker center dedicated to staging strikes at thousands of fast food chains across the country.