Ryan Williams

Undeterred, the UFCW launched Organization United for Respect at Walmart – or OUR Walmart – in 2010. Apart from its more benign and inclusive-sounding name, OUR Walmart gives the UFCW an advantage it didn’t have with previous anti-Walmart campaigns. The group promotes itself as an independent non-profit worker center whose membership consists of former and current Walmart employees seeking broad improvements in wages and benefits. In reality, OUR Walmart is a thinly veiled extension of the UFCW that exists outside the restrictions imposed by federal labor laws. Unlike unions, worker centers do not have to file annual reports with the U.S. Department of Labor disclosing membership and financial information. OUR Walmart also can stage ongoing protests outside Walmart stores – as it did last year on Black Friday – without heeding strict federal guidelines for such actions.

The UFCW’s strategy thrives in this murky legality. It claims a large membership in OUR Walmart without ever disclosing those numbers or the organization’s board of directors. The UFCW can also provide staffing and financial support for OUR Walmart without fear of legal or public backlash. Dan Schlademan, director of Making Change at Walmart (which oversees the OUR Walmart effort) is on the UFCW payroll earning $156,292 as a campaign organizer. Schlademan built his career organizing for the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) before joining the UFCW’s attacks on Walmart. He’s one of countless union organizers on permanent loan to the OUR Walmart campaign. It’s also notable that his previous employer, SEIU, is undertaking an identical strategy as UFCW – using worker center front groups like Fast Food Forward and Fight for 15 to attack and unionize chain restaurants.

The dishonest campaign launched by Big Labor against Walmart is a shameless attempt to undermine the nation’s largest retailer. This Black Friday, people should reject their phony protests recognize the true motives of shadow organizations like OUR Walmart that deliberately deceiving the public.

Ryan Williams

Ryan Williams is a senior vice president at FP1 Strategies, a Washington based public affairs, advertising, grassroots and media relations firm.