– Wal-Mart workers on strike (Salon, Oct 4, 2012):
Employees protesting working conditions and retaliation are flexing their organizing muscle. But the first-of-its-kind strike carries risks.
Today, for the first time in Wal-Mart’s 50-year history, workers at multiple stores are out on strike. Minutes ago, dozens of workers at Southern California stores launched a one-day work stoppage in protest of alleged retaliation against their attempts to organize. In a few hours, they’ll join supporters for a mass rally outside a Pico Rivera, Calif., store. This is the latest – and most dramatic – of the recent escalations in the decades-long struggle between organized labor and the largest private employer in the world.
“I’m excited, I’m nervous, I’m scared…” Pico Rivera Wal-Mart employee Evelin Cruz told Salon yesterday about her decision to join today’s strike. “But I think the time has come, so they take notice that these associates are tired of all the issues in the stores, all the management retaliating against you.” Rivera, a department manager, said her store is chronically understaffed: “They expect the work to be done, without having the people to do the job.”
Wal-Mart is entirely union-free in North America, and has worked aggressively to stay that way. Today’s strike is an outgrowth of a year of organizing by OUR Walmart, an organization of Wal-Mart workers. OUR Walmart is backed by the United Food and Commercial Workers union, but hasn’t sought union recognition from Wal-Mart; its members have campaigned for improvements in their local stores and converged at Wal-Mart’s annual shareholder meeting.