Labor Pains: Because Being in a Union can be Painful

OUR Walmart: Still UFCW in “Worker Center” Costume

UFCWgifAnnually, labor union federations and private-sector unions must publish an annual report to the Department of Labor (known as the LM-2) pursuant to the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act.  And even though one of the first acts of the Obama/Solis pro-union DoL was gutting Bush-era reforms that made unions more transparent, they still contain useful nuggets that show what Big Labor is up to. LM-2s have come due for unions that run a calendar-year reporting year—some major unions, like the AFL-CIO, don’t—and today we examine the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW). (You can review LM-2s for yourself at the Department of Labor site, and once all unions have filed for the year, we make them searchable at

One nugget from the UFCW’s LM-2 we’re especially interested in is the status of OUR Walmart, UFCW’s in-house corporate campaign “worker center” front group. In 2011 and 2012, UFCW claimed — contrary to implications the union and OUR Walmart have made in public statements — that OUR Walmart was “a subsidiary organization” on its LM-2. New year, same claim. The relevant text now reads:

Question 11(b): The UFCW has a subsidiary organization maintained in Washington DC named the Organization United For Respect at Walmart whose purpose as stated in the by-laws will be the betterment of the conditions of the current and former associates at Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., within the meaning of Section 501(c)(5) of the Internal Revenue Code, and to make Wal-Mart a better corporate citizen. The financial transactions are included in the 12/31/13 filing of this LM2.

That is the same text as last year, verbatim: Only the transaction date has changed. There is little doubt that OUR Walmart is little more than fake grassroots Astroturf. Despite disclosing the extremely limited goal of involving 500 Wal-Mart associates in a November protest, OUR Walmart/UFCW failed to turn out even that tiny proportion of the retailer’s 1.3 million-member workforce. (Wal-Mart estimates fewer than 20 turned out.)

A few other tidbits of interest:

  • BerlinRosen, the public relations firm also retained by SEIU for its Fast Food Forward and Fight for $15 worker center campaigns, was paid $240,614, mostly for “Representational Consulting.”
  • Interfaith Worker Justice, a worker center network backing the OUR Walmart corporate campaign, received $113,000, mostly in “Advocacy Contributions.”
  • Jobs With Justice, another SEIU-backed worker center coalition, got $180,000 in “Advocacy Contributions.”
Categories: AFL-CIOCenter for Union FactsUFCWWorkers Center