Walmart, Amazon, and other powerful, well-financed companies have captured control over much of retailing. These giants maintain their extraordinary market position not by competing on the merits of their service. Instead, they exert their power as dominant buyers of food and goods to bully suppliers, extracting discounts for themselves while forcing independent retailers to pay more. This is threatening those small businesses, wounding competition, and hollowing out communities large and small. It’s a monopoly tactic we call “predatory buying.” In this report, we examine the history of these abuses, the law Congress passed in 1936 to protect independent businesses’ right to compete on fair terms, and the pro-bigness coup that stopped enforcement of the law in the 1970s.
The improbable April 1 victory of Amazon workers in Staten Island, who fought for over two years to establish the very first union at the retail behemoth, is inspiring other Amazon employees around the country and highlighting a new path forward for the labor movement. It may also reignite labor organizing at Walmart, where workers seeking to form unions have been thwarted for decades. More than two years after Amazon employee Christian Smalls led a small walkout at JFK8, the company’s sprawling distribution center on Staten Island, to protest its lack of COVID-19 health safety guidelines — soon after which he was fired — he returned in triumph. Earlier this month, at a joyful press conference on a grassy lot near the facility, Smalls and fellow organizers celebrated the historic Amazon Labor Union (ALU) win.
“Amazon is the epoch-defining corporation of the moment in a way that Walmart was two decades ago,” said Howard W, an Amazon warehouse worker and organizer with Amazonians United, a grassroots movement of Amazon workers building shop-floor power. What can organizers at Amazon learn from the Walmart campaigns in the 2000s? And what can these two efforts teach us about organizing at scale? Unions haven’t successfully organized an employer with more than 10,000 workers in decades, so getting to scale is one of the most pressing challenges for the social justice movements.
Amazon is the epoch-defining corporation of the moment in a way that Walmart was two decades ago,” said Howard W, an Amazon warehouse worker and organizer with Amazonians United, a grassroots movement of Amazon workers building shop-floor power. What can organizers at Amazon learn from the Walmart campaigns in the 2000s? And what can these two efforts teach us about organizing at scale? Unions haven’t successfully organized an employer with more than 10,000 workers in decades, so getting to scale is one of the most pressing challenges for the social justice movements. To explore these questions, Howard was joined by Wade Rathke, who, as chief organizer of ACORN in the U.S. from 1970 – 2008, anchored a collaboration among ACORN, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) that aimed to organize Walmart.
Allegany, New York — The salon at Walmart was closed Tuesday after the entire staff quit at the same time. The SmartStyle Hair Salon’s doors were locked Tuesday morning with the message “We Out” on a poster hanging in the window. The poster also included the note, “We love our people,” and listed where each of the stylists had moved to. Staff member Dana Roth said the mass exit was inevitable with the way the site’s upper management had disregarded any concerns voiced to them. “The last nine months especially has been fairly taxing with us having had a limited staff and no support from the higher-ups,” Roth told the Times Herald. A manager at Allegany Walmart said there was nothing they could comment on at the store level and to contact the corporate office.
Until she got her first Pfizer shot on July 16, Cindy Cervantes toiled in the Seaboard Foods pork processing plant in Guymon, Oklahoma for most of the pandemic without a vaccine — working unprotected in an industry devastated by Covid-19 illnesses and deaths. “In one day, at least 300 people were gone” from the plant, sick from Covid, Cervantes says. Still, “Seaboard wanted a certain number of hogs out. They kept pushing people, the chain was going even faster. People were getting injured, and we were losing even more people.” Six of her coworkers have died from Covid-19, and hundreds have gotten sick, she says. Ravaged by the pandemic, the roughly 500,000 U.S. workers in meatpacking, meat processing and poultry are not getting much help from the industry or the government.
Landing a job in the ’80s with a large corporation was, even for blue-collar workers, a ticket to good wages, generous benefits and a secure retirement. Women and workers of color did not share fully in this bounty, but they generally did better at big firms than small ones. All this began to unravel in the 1980s. Big business used the excuse of global competition to chip away at the living standards of the domestic workforce. Assault on unions, which were key in bringing about job improvements, proliferated. Meatpacking, for instance, what had been high wage and high-density union, turned into a bastion of precarious labor.
Walmart Workers Demand Fair Pay And Hours At Protest Outside Alice Walton’s Penthouse As Retail Giant Cuts Jobs
Walmart workers issued a "wake up call" to Alice Walton, an heir to the retailer's $500 billion fortune, in New York on Tuesday by marching to Walton's New York penthouse and demanding her company pay its 1.5 million workers a living wage and give them reliable, stable work schedules. The protest was partially a response to the company's so-called "Great Workplace" restructuring initiative which Walmart began testing last year and plans to roll out in at least 1,100 of its 5,300 U.S. stores by the end of 2020.
Walmart could suddenly become a whole lot less busy this back-to-school shopping season. The American Federation of Teachers, the nation's largest teachers union, is threatening to boycott the giant retailer if it continues to sell guns. The labor group also wants Walmart to stop making financial contributions to politicians who oppose gun control. "If Walmart continues to provide funding to lawmakers who are standing in the way of gun reform, teachers and students should reconsider doing their back-to-school shopping at your stores," AFT president Randi Weingarten wrote in an Aug. 7 letter to Walmart CEO Doug McMillon.
Following a pair of deadly mass shootings over the weekend, including one at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas, a Walmart e-commerce category specialist, Thomas Marshall, posted two memos widely within the company, urging mass action by employees to pressure management to cease the sale of firearms. Now, Marshall claims he and one of his colleagues are unable to access their internal accounts. “Walmart has completely deactivated our access and accounts.
Our findings illustrate the failure of contemporary antitrust policy. For nearly four decades, the two agencies that enforce the antitrust laws, the U.S. Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission, have given corporations like Walmart a free hand to use their size and financial might to consolidate markets. This lax approach was supposed to generate widespread benefits for Americans. Instead, it has left a remarkable number of places without a competitive market for even the most basic of daily needs.
More than 8,500 Walmart employees will strike in 10 states on March 20 if the company doesn’t meet their demands for a 20% pay increase as well as other benefits and better conditions. The mainly female cashiers and other low-ranking employees at the big-box retail chain earn on average between 140 and 150 pesos (US $7 to $7.50) per day and are not enrolled in medical insurance or retirement schemes, their union claims. In addition, the National Association of Shop and Private Office Workers contends that Walmart doesn’t respect the right to an eight-hour working day, doesn’t pay overtime in accordance with the law, discriminates against pregnant women and has dismissed workers unfairly.
Walmart’s move is just the latest in the rolling-out of surveillance technology across workplaces in the United States, which merges the use of technology for generating metrics with spying technology that further creeps into the lives of already hard-pressed, cash-strapped workers. Big-box retailing behemoth Walmart, which employs one of the United States’ largest workforces, has never been known for being a friendly corporation to employees. With its anti-worker environment, hard-nosed opposition to unions, and reputation for destroying small business in markets it grows to dominate, the company has become synonymous with the heartless, calculating reputation of corporate culture and its total disregard for people’s dignity.
For the past two decades, Walmart has repeatedly been accused of compelling workers to perform certain tasks off the clock and has paid numerous fines for those practices. It is often suggested that the retailer is an anomaly, acting more like a fly-by-night sweatshop than a corporate giant. I recently completed a research project showing that, on the contrary, off-the-clock work, denial of overtime pay through misclassification and other forms of wage theft are pervasive in American big business. After digging through court records for much of the past year, I found more than 1,200 successful wage and hour lawsuits against hundreds of the country’s largest employers. These collective action suits have yielded some $8.8 billion in settlements and verdicts in the period since 2000. The same group of corporations have paid around $400 million in fines to the U.S. Department of Labor.
By André Campos for Mongabay - Products derived from timber extracted by workers living in conditions analogous to slave labor in Brazil are connected to a complex business network linked to the U.S. market – possibly reaching the shelves of large retailers and being used in renovation of landmarks – according to a new investigation conducted by Brazilian news outlet Repórter Brasil. After purchasing from suppliers held liable for that crime by the Brazilian government, local traders exported timber to companies like USFloors, which supplies the retail chain Lowe’s, as well as Timber Holdings, which supplied timber for construction projects at Central Park and Brooklyn Bridge in New York.