Black Friday union strikes against Wal-Mart likely to fizzle

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Brendan Bordelon Contributor
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The “widespread, massive strikes and protests” targeting Wal-Mart on Black Friday will almost certainly fall flat, says one union watchdog closely monitoring the labor group planning the pickets.

OUR Walmart, a close affiliate of the massive United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW), is threatening the big-box chain with crippling strikes and angry crowds during next week’s crucial Black Friday sale unless the company raises worker wages.

The planned strike, along with a series of smaller pickets preceding it, have been heavily hyped in the left-wing media. “We do expect [the protests] to be larger than last year because we have so many more members and so much more community support,” the head of a labor advocacy group told the Huffington Post on Thursday.

But Justin Wilson, managing director of the pro-business Center for Union Facts, says reporters predicting widespread walkouts and parking lot chaos are being played.

“The emperor has no clothes here,” he told The Daily Caller News Foundation in an interview. “This is not even a strike, it’s a picket. And it’s a picket by union leaders, not Wal-Mart employees.”

Wilson’s organization sent observers to labor union meetings designed to plan and promote the Black Friday walkouts in Chicago, Pittsburgh and Raleigh. Although touted by union leaders as crucial to the strike’s success, according to Wilson nearly no one attended the events.

Only two union activists — not Wal-Mart employees — showed up to the Chicago meeting on Nov. 12. Just four managed to make it to Pittsburgh’s strike planning committee this Wednesday. And an expected meeting in Raleigh earlier this month was canceled, apparently due to a complete lack of interest.

“At the Chicago one, instead of having a meeting talking about the strike they had people making phone calls, trying to get people to turn out for the strikes,” Wilson claimed. “And even after making a fair number of calls, no one actually even wanted to come.”

Strikes against Wal-Mart were similarly exaggerated in the run-up to Black Friday in 2012. Despite apocalyptic predictions, those strikes only saw between 100 and 400 Wal-Mart employees walk off the job in protest.

“Even if you give the union the best case scenario,” said Wilson, “those people equate to about one-and-a-half Wal-Mart stores, and there’s over 1,000 stores in the United States.”

Strangely, a disclaimer at the bottom of OUR Walmart’s website states that “UFCW and OUR Walmart have no intent to to have Walmart recognize or bargain with UFCW or OUR Walmart as the representative of Walmart employees.”

Federal labor law prohibits a union from picketing an employer for more than 30 days in order to achieve union recognition. By refusing to advocate for unionization, OUR Walmart — which is technically a “worker center” despite the UFCW’s heavy influence in the organization — can picket the company indefinitely while still remaining within the law.

Wilson contends that OUR Walmart and the UFCW’s chief reason behind the protests are to provide cover for other service unions in major metropolitan areas.

“The crucial grocery stores in most major cities are all unionized,” he explained, “and Wal-Mart has made it a priority to enter cities across the country. … Wal-Mart brings in competition, and the unionized grocery stores have gone to their unions and said, ‘How on earth can you expect us to survive? Wal-Mart has lower prices — we need to raise their wages.'”

“What this is all about is creating monopolies for unionized grocery stores and just giving Wal-Mart a bad day,” Wilson claimed.

But if organizers expect massive strikes and picket lines to materialize next Friday — turning away shoppers and giving Wal-Mart a black eye — Wilson believes they’ll be disappointed.

“The idea that there’s this mass uprising of Wal-Mart employees trying to unionize the stores when they can’t get more than 500 of them to actually turn out is ridiculous — just an absolute joke,” he concluded.

Making Change for Walmart, a subsidiary of OUR Walmart, told TheDCNF “there is more energy and support for Walmart to improve jobs than we’ve ever seen.”

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