Black Friday Advisory

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.

Washington Monthly - Donate today and your gift will be doubled!

Support Nonprofit Journalism

If you enjoyed this article, consider making a donation to help us produce more like it. The Washington Monthly was founded in 1969 to tell the stories of how government really works—and how to make it work better. Fifty years later, the need for incisive analysis and new, progressive policy ideas is clearer than ever. As a nonprofit, we rely on support from readers like you.

Yes, I’ll make a donation

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore is a political columnist for New York and managing editor at the Democratic Strategist website. He was a contributing writer at the Washington Monthly from January 2012 until November 2015, and was the principal contributor to the Political Animal blog.