Keeping pressure on Wal-Mart
DUNCANVILLE, Texas--When Wal-Mart's management ejected union activists and supporters from the property of the Super Center here in June, we promised we'd be back.
On October 31, friends of the Wal-Mart Workers for Change and Wake Up Wal-Mart campaigns turned out with leaflets to build community support for the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) organizing drive that is taking place within the store.
Activists are demanding that Wal-Mart use some of its mega-profits to provide affordable health care to the multitude of overworked and underpaid laborers they cynically refer to as "associates." Among the participants were Kroger employees who have already won UFCW contracts and a handful of other supporters from Jobs With Justice and the International Socialist Organization.
Within a few minutes, activists collected 40 signatures from sympathetic working people in the parking lot. One woman said, "Wal-Mart makes so much money off the backs of their employees the very least they could do is give a little back." Another woman hurried to hand in a card she signed even as police were escorting activists off the property. A display of solidarity like that is exactly what the workers need from the community.
After being chased away, union supporters staged a rally across the street with signs that read "Change Wal-Mart, Change America" and "Join America's Fight for Health Care." During this time, a few more cards were signed by passing drivers.
The key to rebuilding the labor movement in the "right-to-work" South lies in a return to grassroots organizing and developing innovative responses to anti-union laws. Wal-Mart is the biggest and most profitable company in the U.S. It is an example to the business world of how to drive down wages, squeeze employees and strangle union campaigns before they start.
It is also a leader in the corporate driven anti-health care movement that has come to dominate the national debate. For these reasons, the fight to unionize Wal-Mart deserves the active support of every person who stands for justice.
Andrew McGuire, an organizer for the UFCW, will be speaking on the activist panel at the upcoming Texas Socialist Conference, which will also include a workshop on "Socialists and the Trade Union Movement."