Could the Real OUR Walmart Please Stand Up?

Walmart / Flickr

Politico said it best, “Who is the ‘our’ in OUR Walmart?” Apparently, the leadership of the new AFL-CIO-backed OUR Walmart was fired from the old UFCW-backed OUR Walmart because they “hijacked the board and refused democratic elections.” It’s always humorous to watch so-called worker advocates toss aside their public ideals when money and control are up for grabs. It’s unclear now just who exactly is in charge – is it the AFL-CIO or UFCW?

The UFCW, for its part, maintains that the old UFCW-backed OUR Walmart isn’t old at all, and that its group is still the only OUR Walmart. The UFCW asserts that it maintains the rights to the name and website, and they are calling on the AFL-CIO-backed impostor to cease and desist.

Confused yet? Well, imagine if you’re one of the few dues paying members of either group. It’s only fifteen or twenty workers (out of 1.4 million workers, mind you), but it’s sad that they’re caught in the middle of this charade and a “he said/she said” squabble between two international unions with budgets in the $100 of millions of dollars.

News outlets reported earlier this summer that the OUR Walmart organization, who for years have used reprehensible tactics of filing frivolous lawsuits against the store, harassing its employees, illegally picketing, disrupting Walmart operations with in-store protests and smearing Walmart’s reputation in the media, was finally going defunct. UFCW, under recently elected new leadership, fired OUR Walmart’s leaders Dan Schlademan and Andrea Dehlendorf and slashed funding for the program. It now appears that AFL-CIO, not wanting to ruin the hyperbole that the labor movement is in the midst of a resurgence, wants to take up the reins. But with UFCW maintaining the remnants of their original OUR Walmart group, it’s unclear who is who.

What is clear, however, is that this union leadership team couldn’t manage a 4th grade student council. And, at the same time, these two dueling monkey houses are trying to convince all of Walmart’s workforce to fork over dues money so that they can negotiate and “represent their interests.” Fortunately for the other 1,399,980 or so Walmart workers, they’ve rejected OUR Walmart appeals for the better part of a decade.

Organized labor, facing declining membership year after year, is clinging to every option to maintain relevance. Perhaps this is why workers are no longer buying what unions sell, as this is just the latest episode of putting labor leadership’s interests ahead of workers.

How will this all end? Who knows, but in the meantime, the fired UFCW OUR Walmart Director who cleared over $150,000 last year is now on the AFL-CIO payroll, so who cares.

Ashley Pratte is a senior adviser for Worker Center Watch


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