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Labor Pains: Because Being in a Union can be Painful

UFCW Leaders Arrested Posing as Walmart Employees

We noted that recent protests at Wal-Mart stores were stage-managed United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) union-organized efforts aimed at unionizing the retailer or winning political support to make the chain uncompetitive with unionized grocers. Through a “worker center” known as OUR Walmart, UFCW supporters staged protests that the led  20 employees (of over 1.4 million hourly associates) to walk off the job on “Black Friday,” the day after Thanksgiving.

And some of those protesters ended up in jail as part of their demonstrations. (The tactic is as deliberate as it is overused.) The Freedom Foundation, a Washington State think tank, was able to obtain the names of 15 OUR Walmart protesters who were arrested at a Bellevue demonstration through a public records request and did some digging into their backgrounds.

Of the 15 people who were booked, only one was found to be a current Wal-Mart employee. Two had previously worked for Wal-Mart but had been let go, one allegedly for threatening another employee. Five were random outside individuals with no connection to Wal-Mart or an identified labor organization or union front group. The rest were all professional labor activists and agitators, including:

  • Assistant to the President of UFCW Local 21;
  • Executive Director of the Washington Fair Trade Coalition, a labor-linked advocacy group;
  • Executive Director of the Domestic Fair Trade Association, a labor-linked advocacy group;
  • A member of the board of Puget Sound Advocates for Retirement Action who is also a local Democratic Party district chair and a former International Association of Machinists official;
  • A Political Action Coordinator of the Washington State Nurses Association;
  • A secretary of the Puget Sound chapter of the Coalition of Labor Union Women; and
  • Another member of Puget Sound Advocates for Retirement Action, a labor-linked advocacy group

The comprehensive analysis confirms what we already suspected. A quickie search turns up more evidence that the arrestees were organized labor activists. Media reports highlighted the arrest of Karl Hilgert (who dressed as Santa Claus) as part of a protest in California. It turns out that Mr. Hilgert is a member of a local chapter of the union-funded worker center alliance Interfaith Worker Justice. (UFCW gave IWJ’s national headquarters $99,000 in 2012.)

The evidence continues to pour in showing that the “worker centers” are simply union front groups in new clothes. How long before the media notices?

Categories: UFCWWorkers Center