Taking inspiration from small strikes and actions over the past few years, OUR Walmart activists struck a note of dissent at the corporation’s annual party.
Working closely with organizers from the United Food and Commercial Workers union, a hundred employees launched OUR Walmart, labor’s latest effort to force change at the nation’s largest employer and pioneering union-buster. Last year, the group pulled off the first coordinated US strikes in Walmart’s five-decade history, culminating in a high-profile walkout by more than 400 workers on Black Friday.
OUR Walmart launched a smaller but longer strike: beginning May 28, about a hundred workers walked off the job and joined Freedom Ride–inspired caravans across the country, which converged in Arkansas for a week of counter-programming to the shareholder convention.
Following a prayer vigil across from Sam Walton’s original store, Interfaith Worker Justice founder Kim Bobo told me she found it “really hard to engage the religious community” in the previous decade’s union-backed Walmart protests, because unlike this time, “there weren’t workers.” When I asked her how much bigger OUR Walmart would have to get for a shot at some kind of victory, Bobo laughed. “Fifty times bigger, probably. But…I think we’re moving that way."