For 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.