Thursday, November 22, 2012

Will Black Friday be a Tipping Point?

Tomorrow, "Black Friday", Walmart Associates across the country will be walking off the job to stand up for their right to organize and to protest management retaliating against their members for standing up. No one really knows exactly how many people will walk off the job during the busiest shopping day of the year, but whatever the number, it is clear that Black Friday has brought the issues the workers face to the forefront of the public consciousness. In that alone they have one victory in the bank.

In the past Walmart was able to tightly control the narrative told by most of the media. That is not so anymore. OURWalmart and their allies have skillfully put Walmart on the defensive by frontlining the members of OURWalmart rather than staff people as guests on talkshows and in the media and by making sure the workers were able to tell their compelling stories through social media. Labor journalist Josh Eidelson has done a fantastic job chronicling the strikes on his new blog at The Nation.

The strike wave a few weeks ago never really ended. Strikes became more sporadic but continued at stores around the country. Warehouse Workers United called a new strike early last week over management retaliation against organizers. These continuing actions have kept the spotlight on the struggle facing Walmart associates who are raising quite reasonable demands. The fact that the strikes are "Unfair Labor Practice" strikes protects the workers from permanent replacement and any retaliation by Walmart simply creates the basis for valid claims of illegal activity by the Company.

My metric for success is not whether a single Walmart is shut down tonight or tomorrow. I will judge the Black Friday strike by whether the labor movement as a whole comes out of this with with a renewed sense of our own ability to be bold, think big, and to take the fight to the enemy. The question for us all is could this be the "tipping point" that both validates a new model of organizing large service sector employers and leads to a new upsurge in organizing and worker militancy? I can't wait to find out.

So get your ass to a Walmart tomorrow and lets make some history.

If you can't get your ass to a Walmart tomorrow(actually even if you do), you can sponsor a striker HERE.

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