The great recession of 2008, this global economic meltdown, has wiped out the life savings of so many people, and created a looming threat of chronic unemployment for millions. This is happening while corporate coffers are brimming with historically high levels of cash on hand, in both the “too big to fail” banks and in non-financial corporations.
Despite unemployment levels that remain high, and the anxiety caused by people living paycheck to paycheck, many workers in the United States are taking matters into their own hands, demanding better working conditions and better pay. These are the workers who are left unmentioned in the presidential debates, who remain uninvited into the corporate news networks’ gilded studios. These are the workers atWalmart, the largest private employer in the United States.
These are the tomato pickers from Florida. With scant resources, armed with their courage and the knowledge that they deserve better, they are organizing and getting results.
This week, Walmart workers launched the first strike against the giant retailer in its 50-year history, with protests and picket lines at 28 stores across 12 states. Many of these non-union workers are facing retaliation from their employer, despite the protections that exist on paper through the National Labor Relations Board. The strikers are operating under the banner of Our Walmart: Organization United for Respect at Walmart started with support from the United Food and Commercial Workers Union.
Our Walmart members protested outside Walmart’s “Meeting for the Investment Community 2012″ in Bentonville, Arkansas. Demanding a stop to the company’s retaliations, the group promised a vigorous national presence at Walmart stores on Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving and the largest retail shopping day of the year. The workers have an impressive array of allies ready to join them, including the National Organization for Women.