With Wal-Mart’s shareholder meeting coming up at the end of the week, the United Food and Commercial Workers’ in-house front group OUR Walmart is trying to rally its flagging campaign to either organize the retailer or drive up the retailer’s costs to make union shops more competitive. But it doesn’t look like the media is buying the union’s claim that OUR Walmart represents widespread “strikes” against Wal-Mart anymore.
American Public Media’s Marketplace notes that few workers are expected to participate. A union-sympathizing labor relations professor explains that somehow, that isn’t the point:
Today, however, with a sluggish economy in which jobs are hard to come by, [Professor] Chiason says strikes have necessarily taken on a different role: more about public relations, less about any real attempt by employees to pressure a company by withholding their labor.
Indeed, UFCW’s spending on the OUR Walmart campaign suggests it’s essentially all about P.R. rather than worker power. According to Labor Department filings from last year, UFCW national headquarters has retained union-friendly public relations shop Berlin Rosen to the tune of $240,614. You might remember this shop for puppet-mastering the SEIU’s multimillion-dollar fast food organizing campaign.
And who happily brags about coordinating “coalitions organizing Wal-Mart workers” on its website? Why, Berlin Rosen does! Just like SEIU’s Astroturfed campaign against restaurants, UFCW appears to be Astroturfing against Wal-Mart. At least now, the media is asking questions.