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Walmart: The Big Labor White Whale

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.

Imagine you’ve finished a long, trying day at work. You’ve picked up your two toddlers from childcare, and stop at your local Walmart store on the way home to pick up some groceries. After successfully managing your shopping cart and two squirming little ones you finally reach the checkout aisle, sighing with relief as you realize that your day is almost done. But once there, you find that Big Labor protesters, most of whom don’t even work at Walmart, have taken over the store. They are chanting loudly and yelling directly at cashiers because they are not currently union members – and your long day is getting longer.


This is how today’s desperate union bosses have taken to gaining membership – making life miserable for employers, customers and even employees who they repeatedly harass, just to get them to become dues paying members.

Today, with only a little more than seven percent of the private sector workforce belonging to a union, most hardworking taxpayers find that federal and state laws and regulations on wages, workplace safety and discrimination policies already provide them, by law, what unions used to provide in the past – but without the bite from their wallets.

So if workers aren’t demanding unions, what’s Big Labor to do? They now engage in bullying and intimidation campaigns against large un-unionized companies who haven’t surrendered to previous public relations attacks. The idea is to make it too expensive and inconvenient for customers and employees alike not to surrender to union bosses – regardless of what the employees might choose. Walmart is one of the most popular targets, because as the nation’s largest employer, their non-union status means that union bosses don’t have their cut of the salaries of 1.4 million workers.

Nearly every year for the last decade, the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) union has created a new effort to unionize the 1.4 million Walmart employees in the U.S. who are not paying into union coffers. In 2002, they created an effort called “The People’s Campaign.” In 2004 it was “Walmart Alliance for Reform Now” (WARN). Then it was the “Walmart Workers Association”. In 2005 it was “Wake Up Walmart”. In 2006 it was “Walmart Workers of America”. In 2008 it was “Walmart Workers for Change”. Today, it’s “OUR Walmart” and “Making Change at Walmart”.


No significant group of hardworking associates at Walmart have come together to request UFCW representation. Walmart workers are generally more satisfied with their employment situation than the average retail employee and they want to keep their money in their own pockets. Last year, Walmart conducted a confidential survey of nearly 20,000 employees and found that 86 percent of those polled either “strongly agree” or “agree” with the statement, “I really love my job.” But these content employees made UFCW bosses very unhappy.

So these union-created entities have periodically sprung up through the efforts of union-paid community organizers and members employed by competing stores. This past year they staged what they predicted would be mass demonstration in all 50 states as part of Black Friday – the day after Thanksgiving – the biggest shopping day of the year for retail stores.

The paid union organizers called it the “National Day of Action at Walmart Stores.” The media dutifully turned out in large numbers for the made for TV protests. So did the paid union representatives. But what about actual real life Walmart employees? Not so much of a turnout – just a handful of workers joined the Potemkin protests. Even with the agitation created by paid union organizers, real life employees are not inspired for the change that would mean more money out of their pockets. Turns out they just aren’t that into the union bosses.


Now just imagine instead of media reporting over and over again on these staged efforts, they actually provided context and pointed out that this 2012 Black Friday event was a repeat of a 2002 similar effort. Imagine if they actually highlighted many of these bullying tactics such as these – “They have screamed through bullhorns, paraded around with banners and signs on sticks, conducted in-store ‘flash mobs,’ and diverted management and local police from their normal job functions.” Unlike the “Our Walmart” Potemkin protests – those would be stories.

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