November 16, 2012

CNNMoney Item on Wal-Mart Tensions Cites Oct. ‘Strike’ by ‘More Than 100′ Employees in 12 Cities as Something Significant

Someone needs to tell Emily Jane Fox that for workers refusing to do scheduled work assigned by their employers to be engaging in a “strike” (“a concerted stopping of work or withdrawal of workers’ services, as to compel an employer to accede to workers’ demands or in protest against terms or conditions imposed by an employer”) there needs needs to be enough of them to matter. If there aren’t, it’s pretty much a small group of people conducting a (conceivably justified) protest.

As Fox described it in her Thursday report at about a group of Wal-Mart employees workers planning a Black Friday walkout — which, if large enough, may qualify for “strike” status — what happened in October appears to have been little more than a tiny temper tantrum:

A group of Wal-Mart workers are planning to stage a walkout next week on Black Friday, arguably the biggest holiday shopping day for the world’s largest retail store.

The walkout builds on an October strike that started at a Wal-Mart in Los Angeles and spread to stores in 12 other cities. More than 100 workers joined in the October actions.

Seriously? 100 workers at a company with hundreds of thousands of hourly employees in the U.S.? Spread over 12 cities (and who knows how many stores)? How in the world can that be considered a “strike”?

Though there are nationwide movements whose mission in life is to harass the nation’s largest retailer, Fox never presented evidence that a specific union, or even any union, is looking to organize individual stores, let alone groups of them. She does appear, in her choice of “experts,” to betray a wish that disgruntled workers might be able to create some calamity a week from now:

But labor experts say that even a small number of workers could make an impact.

“Even if there aren’t that many people, it could have an effect, because their campaign in front of stores could discourage shoppers,” said Ken Margolies, senior associate at the Worker Institute a (sic) Cornell University.

The strike could have an even greater impact if workers from its supply centers participate, according to Margolies. He said it could impede distribution of merchandise on what is usually the busiest day of the year.

It certainly appears that Mr. Margolies is rooting for disruption and financial harm. There’s a predictable reason for that.

It will surprise absolutely no one accustomed to the press’s selective use of “experts” that Mr. Margolies has a long career in union organizing, including with the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), and has identified “expertise” in, among other things, “Union Organizing, Steward Training, Union Representative Training, Management Skills for Union Leaders … Union Structure and Governance.”

The other expert Fox consulted was “Anthony Bianco, author of Wal-Mart: The Bully of Bentonville.”

Her last name may be Fox, but Emily Jane’s report was hardly fair, or balanced.

Cross-posted at


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