Amidst the frenzy of Black Friday, there’s an important labor action occurring that does not–directly at least–involve a union. Yes, it’s at America’s most famously non-unionized company, Wal-Mart, where a coalition of workers (called OUR WalMart) is staging an “unfair labor practice” strike to protest retaliatory actions by the company that are prohibited by the National Labor Relations Act regardless of the presence or absence of a collective bargaining unit. Such strikes are themselves protected under the NLRA.
At TAP, Cole Stangler explains the Black Friday action:
OUR Walmart isn’t trying to push for union representation for Wal-Mart workers. The campaign is organizing behind a broad set of demands by building a network of allies and trying to pressure the company. “The fundamental difference is this isn’t a collective-bargaining organization, it’s a rights-based organization. At this point, there’s not a battle for a collective-bargaining agreement, there’s a battle to change the company,” Schlademan said of OUR Walmart. “All the other things that are the heart and soul of the labor movement and of workers’ organizing are there, which is collective action, workers pulling their resources together so they have a bigger voice, and utilizing the public to educate and build power to change the company.”
Many progressives, of course, make a point of not patronizing Wal-Mart any day of the year. If you are not among that group, you should definitely consider shopping elsewhere Friday. It’s a simple step you can take to encourage changes at Wal-Mart that may someday make it possible to shop there without guilt–or complicity.