Wal-Mart has been hit with an unprecedented series of strikes and walk-outs in the past few months, the first major labor actions in the company’s history.
Labor journalist Josh Eidelson has the scoop on how a group of workers in the company’s Los Angeles warehouses will be hitting the picket lines on Thursday:
Thursday, Walmart warehouse workers are headed back to the picket line. At 8 AM Pacific, twenty-some workers in Mira Loma, California plan to launch a one-day walk-out which could spread to more workers, including retail employees in Walmart stores. Thursday’s strike will be the latest in an unprecedented wave of work stoppages throughout the retail giant’s US supply chain. It follows strikes by seafood workers in June, by warehouse workers in September, and by 160 retail workers in 12 states last month. It comes a week before Black Friday, the post-Thanksgiving shopping extravaganza that workers have pledged—barring concessions from the company—will bring their biggest disruptions yet.
“Hopefully it will make a dent in their production…” said Raymond Castillo, “and it gets their attention, that we’re not playing around.” Castillo and other Mira Loma workers struck in September, and voted Sunday to do it again on Thursday. According to Castillo, workers started organizing because of unsafe and unsanitary conditions: crooked ramps caused serious injuries; workers’ drinking water came from a hose. The organizing brought retaliation, which inspired a strike, which drew more punishment. “Since we’ve all been retaliated against,” said Castillo, “it was a pretty easy decision for all of us to go back on strike.”
Recall that Wal-Mart’s operations in Los Angeles were the center of controversy earlier this year when they were caught hiring a public relations and lobbying firm that spied on organizing workers. That level of intimidation is likely part of the calculus that is bringing more and more Wal-Mart employees to take part in these labor actions.