This Is What Democracy Looks Like

How many media outlets in the United States reported that last month, December 2014, 12,000 Chilean Walmart workers went on strike? Yes, you read me correctly: twelve thousand of them. Did any of you hear about this from CNN, Fox, NBC, ABC, The New York Times, anywhere in the media?

Look, I get it that Howard Stern’s speech at Joan Rivers funeral was a truly compelling story, and I would never, ever dare to suggest that we all shouldn’t hear about it repeatedly across multiple media outlets for days on end, but given that something like 1.4 million Americans work at Walmart for poverty wages, unaffordable health insurance, and under sub-optimal working conditions like unpredictable scheduling and a restrictive sick leave policy that disproportionately punishes single mothers with sick children, one would think that the story of 12,000 Walmart workers on strike would be able to get some legs. I’m no newsroom editor, but, well, just sayin’.

Of further interest, I should think, is that Chilean Walmart workers are represented by 70 different unions. What?  Walmart workers in Chile are represented by unions? Wow, that’s news to me. And I bet it would be news to 1.4 million American Walmart workers and their families too.

Making Change at Walmart is a community allies campaign to support American Walmart workers demands for $15.00 an hour and full time work for employees who want it. They’re circulating an online petition calling for good people everywhere to sign on.

And given that the five members of the Walton family are collectively worth a truly staggering and absolutely mind blowing 152 billion, let me repeat that, ONE HUNDRED AND FIFTY TWO BILLION DOLLARS, a living wage at full time hours seems like an eminently more than reasonable demand.

So please sign the petition and then send it to everyone you know via email, facebook, twitter, etc. Spread the good news because, apparently, our media won’t.


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7 thoughts on “This Is What Democracy Looks Like

  1. I certainly am no fan of Walmart but I have serious questions about the story. It is not sourced at all with any precise way to know the facts or allow for further investigation. If this indeed had happened there would be reports in media outlets from the WSJ to the NYT. The key to the link you provided is that it does not come from an objective outlet but one that is driven for the cause they are pushing. Again, this is not to say in any that Walmart should not be castigated for their business dealings but to point out there is clearly a reason no one is reporting the story—as there very likely is not a real story to report.

  2. Just spoke with my stepdaughter Katrina, who speaks Spanish, and while she couldn’t make out everything being said in the CNN Chile video clip, she did say that, yes, 12,000 Chilean Walmart workers went on strike for better wages and working conditions. Maybe someone should call the New York Times and Wall Street Journal and tell them they seem to have missed quite a huge story.

  3. “Workers of the (WalMart) world, unite; you have nothing to lose but your chains” may be applicable in this situation.

  4. Good job with this, Steve. Succinct, a bit snarky, and, most of all, the bitter truth. I do seem to recall that all it took to keep Walmart out of Spooner was the threat that community members would never give up trying to unionize the employees. I wonder if there’s a market for “Unionize Walmart” T-shirts, and what would happen if I wore one in the local store.

  5. Thanks Jim. We did pledge to make it the first union Walmart in America if they set up shop in Spooner. I don’t think that was entirely why they abandoned the Spooner project but I do think they knew we weren’t making an idle boast. Never give up. 🙂

  6. Here’s a link that explains more about how it is that 12,000 Walmart workers went on strike last month. It’s from Walmart’s corporate site and explains how they acquired a major food and retail chain in Chile in 2009 and then changed the name to Walmart Chile in 2010. They have 400 retail outlets and 46,400 “associates”. So after 4 years of dealing with Walmart corporate roughly 27% of their entire workforce went on strike last month. That’s the equivalent of roughly 400,000 of their workforce in the United States. Wow. Just imagine if 400,000 Walmart workers went on strike here. That would really, really be something to see.

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