Worker unrest at Walmart

I’m considerably less unsympathetic to this labor action than my natural hostility to unions might indicate.

Walmart workers and their supporters are planning to launch protests in stores in 15 cities across the US on Thursday, as part of a small but vociferous movement to raise wages and improve conditions for some of the nation’s lowest paid workers.

The action follows strikes last week by fast food workers demanding a higher minimum wage and a civil disobedience action in Washington DC in August, where a coalition of Walmart workers and unions called for a minimum annual wage of $25,000 and the reinstatement of 20 employees they claim were illegally fired by the company after strikes in early June.

OurWalmart, a union-backed members group, says it has filed more than 100 unfair labour practice charges against Walmart with the National Labor Relations Board, including 20 illegal terminations and 80 disciplinary actions. The board said it was looking into “several cases”.

I’ve seen some commentators pointing out that the Walmart workers don’t seem to realize that their wage demands would eliminate the corporation’s operating profits. Whether that is true or not, I think it is totally insane to expect low-income workers to demonstrate more concern for the health of the corporation than the vast majority of Fortune 500 executives do.

We’ve spent the last five years watching bank executives rape their banks of more than FIFTY PERCENT of the profits, then pay themselves bonuses as the federal government hands them trillions to prevent them from going under.  Why on Earth shouldn’t the Walmart workers feel justified in demanding a mere $25k annual minimum wage?  It’s a lot more affordable than bailing out the banks again.