Policy: Labor

News reports confirm that Walmart protests lacked Walmart workers

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Beltway Confidential,Sean Higgins,Labor unions,Labor,Walmart

New details about the Walmart protests orchestrated Thursday by the United Food and Commercial Workers confirm that few of the people involved work for the nonunion retail giant.

In a statement Friday, OUR Walmart, an activist group backed by UFCW, said "100 Walmart workers and community members were arrested in 11 cities Thursday calling on the employer to reinstate illegally fired and disciplined workers, publicly commit to improve jobs and end the company’s aggressive violations of workers’ rights."

Notice that OUR Walmart combines the numbers of Walmart workers and community members. How many of the former were involved? The Washington Post's report on a protest in Hyattsville, Md., provides a look:

"Only two protesters publicly identified themselves as former Walmart employees, and store spokesman Steve Jumper said no employees walked off the job to join the protest."

The Post added this:

"Antoinette Norwood, a resident of Northeast, was typical of the protesters. She boarded a union-funded bus from the District and said she wanted to lend her voice to the effort because she doesn’t want Wal-Mart moving into one of its planned sites off Georgia Avenue."

A New York City protest resulted in the arrests of three individuals trying to meet with a company executive. Only one of the three was a current worker, though, and none of the trio had ever worked at store in the region. (The city has no Walmarts.) They were flown in by the union from Denver, Iowa and South Carolina.

This pattern was repeated in reports from other cities that had protests Thursday. The Sacramento, Calif., CBS affiliate could identify only two Walmart employees at the protest there.

The same was true of an Orlando Sentinel report on the protest in that city. The Associated Press found that at a Los Angeles protest only seven of the 21 people arrested were employees of the retailer.

The Denver Post reported that not one of the 100 people at a Lakewood, Colo., protest was a Walmart employee. The paper added: "Many of those protesting ... were part of the same coalition that demonstrated against a McDonald's restaurant" the previous week.

The UFCW represents many workers employed by major Walmart competitors, including Safety, Kroger and Giant food stores.

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