Sep 17, 2015 - 2:00pm

Confusion at Union-Backed OUR Walmart Group(s)


Senior Vice President, Employment Policy Division

9/17/15

For the past several years, a group known as OUR Walmart has led protests at Walmart stores around the country on Black Friday—the day after Thanksgiving that has become one of the busiest shopping days of the year.  These protests have not always gone as the group has planned, and in fact, OUR Walmart has gotten into legal trouble over its activities.

Nor have these protests led to any new union members for the United Food and Commercial Workers union (UFCW)—the entity that actually sponsors OUR Walmart.  Or at least used to sponsor.  Over the summer, the UFCW announced that it was sharply cutting back funding for the OUR Walmart campaign, and fired the director of the effort.  New leadership of the union seems to have decided to stop throwing good money after bad.  But, perhaps to keep up appearances, the UFCW announced that it would maintain at least a façade of OUR Walmart activity by focusing on “social media” and “grass-roots” actions. 

Apparently this was not enough for some folks within the ranks of organized labor, who recently announced the formation of a competing OUR Walmart group.  This has already led to a bit of confusion, with an official from the original group saying “recently we had a group split from us” while an official from the “new” OUR Walmart retorted:  “We are the true group.”

Actual workers, who presumably will be targeted by both labor organizations, might be a bit confused by all of this public bickering. OUR Walmart’s (the original OUR Walmart, that is) protests were already flagging, as this writer has noted before, and the split is unlikely to boost attendance.  It’s all a bit reminiscent of the Change to Win/AFL-CIO crack up from a few years back.  The initial indicators are that the OUR Walmart spat won’t have any happier of an ending. 

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Glenn Spencer Headshot
Senior Vice President, Employment Policy Division

Glenn Spencer is senior vice president of the Employment Policy division at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.