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Entries in Labor Union (2)

Wednesday
Oct102012

Wal-Mart Workers Threaten to Walk Off the Job on Black Friday

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- The latest news in the Wal-Mart labor protests, which have included walkouts and marches in Dallas, San Diego, Chicago and Los Angeles, is the threat of a strike on Black Friday. That's the day after Thanksgiving, widely considered the busiest and most lucrative retail day of the year.

Some 200 angry protesters showed up at a meeting of investors and analysts Wednesday at Wal-Mart's headquarters in Bentonville, Ark. Under discussion at the meeting was Wal-Mart's intent to go head-to-head with Amazon and offer same-day delivery.

Wal-Mart is the world's largest private employer and has long been a target of workers' rights groups, which advocate higher wages, more flexibility in hours and an end to the punishments like reduced shifts they claim are meted out to workers seeking to unionize.

Evelin Cruz, a department manager at Wal-Mart in Pico Rivera, Calif., told ABC News that for many years she kept quiet about what she views as the company's unjust labor practices because she feared she would be fired if she spoke up.

"People were really tired that any time they would speak out against the pay, hours, how much they would work, that management would cut their hours or not give them a schedule," said Cruz, who is one of thousands of members of Our Wal-Mart, a labor organization backed by the United Food and Commercial Workers that defends Wal-Mart workers' rights.

Walmart spokesman Dan Fogleman disputes the organization’s claims, saying that most employees have "repeatedly rejected unionization.

"They seem to recognize that Walmart has some of the best jobs in the retail industry — good pay, affordable benefits and the chance for advancement," he said in a telephone interview with ABC News.

Wal-Mart and its practices have made the news a lot lately. In mid-September, warehouse workers in Southern California were on a 15-day strike that included a six-day, 50-mile pilgrimage for safe jobs. Around the same time, hundreds of people marched in Dallas and San Diego, demanding better work conditions.

On Monday, Chicago police dressed in riot gear arrested 17 peaceful protesters blocking the entrance to a warehouse operated by an outside contractor that supplies Wal-Mart stores, in Elwood, Ill. The protesters were there to show support for workers who had been on strike since Sept. 15, the Chicago Sun Times reported. What's more, the company faces yet another sex discrimination lawsuit, filed on behalf of 100,000 women in California and Tennessee.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Oct052011

Labor Unions Join Wall Street "Occupiers" for Mass Rally

Spencer Platt/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Representatives from no fewer than 15 of the country's largest labor unions will join the Occupy Wall Street protesters for a mass rally and march Wednesday in New York City.

The AFL-CIO, United Auto Workers, and Transit Workers' Union are among the groups expected to stand in solidarity with the hundreds of mostly young men and women who have spent the better part of three weeks sleeping, eating, and organizing from Zuccotti Square.

Their arrival is being touted as a watershed moment for the "Occupy" movement, which has now seen copycat protests spring up across the country. And while the specific demands of the "occupiers" remain wide-ranging and disorganized, the presence of the unions, implicitly inclined to making more direct demands, may sharpen their focus.

The protesters in Zuccotti Square are expected to march approximately one mile north to Foley Square, where they will be met by community and labor leaders. Then, they plan to match together back down toward Wall Street. They do not yet have a city-issued permit for the gathering, but are now pursuing one.

The "Union March" is expected to be the movement's largest yet and there is the potential for a significant number of arrests. The New York Police Department booked an estimated 700 protesters Saturday as they attempted to cross the Brooklyn Bridge, bringing the total number arrested to over 1,000 in less than three weeks.

While some on the ground welcome the concept of a showdown with the "one percent," organizers, who claim to represent "the 99 percent" of Americans they say are being trampled on by the financial elite, say they remain committed to "non-violent" protest.

The question, though, is what affect the presence of labor unions will have on the tenor of the demonstrations. To date, Occupy Wall Street has set their agenda during twice-daily "general assemblies" with large-scale votes and directly elected "working groups."

The unions do not operate this way. They are top-down organizations. Their leaders, though elected, make most decisions autonomously. They are well-versed in fashioning specific appeals, the very concept of which runs counter to Occupy Wall Street's purposefully abstract message.

While the concept of "becoming" or "creating space" for dissent, as organizers preach, might seem a bit far off to union vets, it's a bedrock of the "occupy movement." But to the hundreds who've made their beds on Zuccotti Park's stone encampment, the meta-narrative probably seems a little bit beside the point.

Whatever the risks entailed in opening up their action to different groups, with different acting ethics, they're reportedly happy for the new support.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio