More Battles in the Walmart Wars: Florida, Strikes, and Delhi

walmart-headquartersNew Orleans    The war room in Bentonville must be on 24 hour Def-con 4 alert these days, given the steady back and forth of advances, feints, and setbacks due to its “profits first, workers last” mantra that is a foundation of its standard operating procedures.

            The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) after waiting for weeks before issuing a complaint in hopes of a settlement between Walmart and the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW), went ahead and pulled the trigger setting in motion a long game legal procedure.  The complaint from the NLRB alleges that Walmart disciplined over 50 workers and fired over a dozen in violation of their protected rights to organize stemming from the Black Friday publicity strikes.  Ironically some of the evidence against Walmart comes from its remarks on national TV news reports, so add to the list of firings some people in their communications department that are probably already long gone. 

            There are two sure things underpinning these reports.  One is that if this goes to an ALJ, administrative law judge, hearing to prove the allegations, the delays, appeals, and everything could take seven or eight years.  The lawyers make the money, the workers get pennies even if they win.  Secondly, if the NLRB was waiting for negotiations before issuing the complaint, then this was the time that the UFCW tried to convert its publicity strikes strategy into real organizing leverage and concessions from Walmart.  The rest is show, this was the real strategy.  The complaint being issued may look like good news but really signals a setback for the strategy and a failure to gain organizing advantages, and that’s a damn shame.

            Walmart always spinning joined with the worker advocacy organization in Florida, the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, to issue a statement that they were joining the Fair Food Program managed by the Coalition which guarantees an extra penny to raise farmworker wages and combat sexual harassment.  You can follow this right?  We may look like bad guys, but, hey, we’re ok, look we’re helping some poor, immigrant farmworkers.

            Meanwhile confirming that perhaps cutting and running from India finally was the right thing to do, ACORN International’s FDI Watch Campaign (www.indiafdiwatch.org) spread the news this week that the new government in the Delhi political jurisdiction has listened to the protests and has now rejected the modifications in foreign direct investment given to multinationals for multi-brand retail and threatening millions of small traders, shopkeepers, hawkers and others.  A “do not enter” sign is now going up around Delhi, and it will be a while before anything changes that warning sign.

            There’s no ceasefire in the Walmart wars, but the fight is very much still on.

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