Quasi-Organizing at Walmart

Walmart_exteriorWorkers in dozens of Walmart stores around the country are planning actions Wednesday that will confront their local managers with demands for changes to the firm’s system for scheduling employee shifts. As The Nation‘s Josh Eidelson reports, Walmart employees have been collectively upset with with erratic work schedules that limit hours and complicate personal lives, all while keeping aggregate wages at poverty levels.

If organizers’ estimates hold, Wednesday’s coordinated worker delegations will represent the largest mobilization of OUR Walmart members since last November’s Black Friday strikes, in which organizers say 400-some workers walked off the job. In some stores, workers will go together to talk to management before or after their shifts; in others, workers will do so during the work day….While the delegations’ shared date and message may amplify attention, their greatest significance will be as the latest test of rank-and-file OUR Walmart leaders’ ability to mobilize co-workers amid fear of retaliation.

It’s also a interesting and important show of the power of organizing even where workers aren’t already organized in the formal labor union sense — using labor law’s statutory protections covering “concerted activity” to advance employee interests.

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