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Welcome to Union-Lite

OURWalmart 300x114 Welcome to Union LiteFor the past year the UFCW has been secretively signing up Walmart employees to something new — Organization United for Respect at Walmart, or OUR Walmart for short.  It isn’t a union, per se, as it isn’t about getting formal recognition or a union contract…just yet.  According to its website, OUR Walmart is only about one thing – you guessed it, “respect” – and without all those nasty negative connotations we share for the “U” word (dues, corruption, Mob ties, socialism, rigged elections, strikes, protecting bad employees, fat cat union bosses, being stuck forever with a do-nothing union, etc.)  And those who sign up now get respect at a discount as they are asked to pay only $5 a month to OUR Walmart, a fraction of the average UFCW union dues.

Organizers claim they have signed up fifty OUR Walmart members in some stores.  And while the effort is organized entirely by UFCW paid staff, and the UFCW paid a high priced consulting firm to develop the concept, and UFCW activist members are paid to knock doors for OUR Walmart, everyone involved is calling the effort “truly grassroots” (on what grounds we can’t say). And while the UFCW tries to stay under deep cover on the group’s website and in its literature, union officials are quite open in their desire to see OUR Walmart pave the way to union recognition. (surprised?)

Walmart officials call the new movement a “stalking horse” for unionization and an attempt to gain new media attention to an anti-Walmart corporate campaign that has lost its fizz.

We’d go one further – OUR Walmart is a bald-faced, cynical, exploitive attempt to deceive Walmart workers, most of whom would otherwise want nothing to do with a union, into turning over their contact information and information on their coworkers to union organizers they unwittingly invite into their homes who are there to troll for potential activists, map the worksite and mine for “organizing issues”.  The move also shuts down discussion on the many inconvenient truths about unions by removing “unions” from the organizing equation.

Expect to see more union-lites like OUR Walmart and Alliance at I.B.M spring up if these efforts are successful.

 

2 comments to Welcome to Union-Lite

  • Angela Williamson

    Expect to see more union-lites like OUR Walmart and Alliance at I.B.M spring up if these efforts are successful.

    Worry Much?
    I belong to OUR. I was not solicited from any other member, or union member.
    I was doing some online reading – came across http://www.forrespect.org and read thru the site, did some research on the group and a month later, had decided enough was enough and joined. I contacted the organization before anyone contacted me….

    For those of us associates that educate others daily it is a grass roots movement bc we want the basics to be brought back to Walmart.

    Also, you talk about money spent to by the UFCW paying a chigh priced consulting firm—Walmart has spent millions with union busting consulting firms such as yourself. How much is your poster proof kit to guide employers on how to turn the right to organize poster into a negative???? Really?? And Walmart will probably pay you for a few colorful posters and a few more ani union dvds to shove down our throats.
    And did I mention that myself, and many other associates that sign people into OUR are not employed and or payed by the union to do so?

    “And while the effort is organized entirely by UFCW paid staff,”

    I speak daily to other associates that are members and are signing others up, together we decide what next action we are going to take as an organization, not the UFCW.
    If Walmart would do the right thing with its poor healthcare, understaffed stores, safety issue in some stores, etc….associates wouldn’t feel as though such actions would have to be taken.

  • editor

    Hi Angela.
    Certainly there are workers like yourself in any union organizing effort who feel passionately about the importance of their cause and are willing to carry the union’s message to their coworkers. As a matter of fact, most unionization efforts can’t move forward without workers willing to persuade their coworkers to get involved.

    However for OUR to be truly “grassroots” OUR would have been started by Walmart employees, not cooked up by UFCW officials and a consulting firm in DC and then passed off as “grassroots”. Perhaps that doesn’t matter to you but that deception might matter to some of your coworkers when OUR begins making demands on the company under the claim that it speaks for all Walmart workers.

    You say you joined because of a website. But who developed that website? And why has the UFCW so carefully hid the fact that OUR is a UFCW organizing effort?

    Finally, Angela, if in the end you and your coworkers actually do decide the direction of OUR — what actions to take, which issues to fight for first, how all your dues dollars are spent, who leads your organization and makes the decisions — congratulations. That would make OUR the first effort the UFCW (or any other union out there) has actually allowed the members to control.

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