The world's retail Goliath notices its workers aren't happy
By Joe Atkins, Labor South
The world's retail Goliath may be finally feeling some pain as a result of the growing number of slingshot-wielding Davids at its feet.
Demonstrators are expected to protest Walmart's treatment of its workers outside its Bentonville, Ark., headquarters Wednesday, Oct. 10, bringing home a message that has been getting louder and louder across the nation and beyond.
Workers have long complained about poor pay, poor benefits and management insensitivity to workplace issues at Walmart, but the company has been resolute in preventing them from ever joining a union and speaking as one voice.
Is a change in store for Mr. Sam's company?
As reported recently by Josh Eidelson of Salon.com (http://www.salon.com/2012/10/09/walmart_strikes_spread_to_more_states), workers have gone on strike at Walmart stores in Laurel, Md., and Dallas, Texas, and others may soon be joining them.
Just last month, warehouse workers who handle Walmart products went back to work after a 15-day strike that forced the giant to concede to developing a plan to improve working conditions at Inland Empire and other companies that do business with Walmart.
The strike, which included a 50-mile march from Inland Empire warehouses to Los Angeles' downtown area, won support from warehouse workers in Illinois and from as far away as Korea and Chile.
Helping to organize these workers is a one-year-old group that calls itself OUR Walmart, which is not a union but is supported by the United Food & Commercial Workers union.
(Photo from OUR Walmart website.)
Joe Atkins is a professor of journalism at the University of Mississippi and author of "Covering for the Bosses: Labor and the Southern Press." A veteran journalist, Atkins previously worked as the congressional correspondent with Gannett New Service's Washington bureau and with newspapers in North Carolina and Mississippi.