Retail Workers Uniting – Locally and Globally

Retail workers and their supporters have been busy raising retail issues across North America and around the world, even during this busy holiday working/shopping season.

When workers at a Winnipeg Staples store unionized, they made history, becoming the first organized location in North America.

Workers in nearly a dozen countries around the world engaged in a global day of action for the rights of Walmart workers everywhere, coordinated through the UNI Global Union Alliance @Walmart.  Check out photos from the actions here.

Zellers workers and their allies delivered over 1000 letters to Target Canada head office, calling on the company to respect Canadian retail workers.  See national news coverage of their efforts here.

Photo by UFCW Canada.

Proving yet again the power of collective action, the Retail Action Project has secured $925 000 for workers at a NY-based retailer in a wage theft settlement.

IGA and Staples Workers Unionize

Building on a year of great momentum in the retail sector, workers in two beautiful Canadian provinces have unionized, choosing to unite in order to collectively self-advocate. Workers at the IGA grocery store in Surrey, British Columbia have voted to join UFCW Local 1518. In Winnipeg, Manitoba, workers at Staples have also organized, joining UFCW Local 832.

ufcw 401 flag

Black Friday Rundown – History in the Making

Last week I met with OUR Walmart organizers in the San Francisco Bay area who are building towards the historic strikes at Walmart stores across the United States this Friday, November 23rd.  I heard of the exciting and creative actions workers are organizing, and of their courageous commitment to speaking out and fostering unity.   It is clear how much support there is for retail workers within their communities, in unions, and among elected representatives.  This growing coalition is a powerful statement on the present and future of the retail workers’ movement, and on the ever-increasing awareness of the importance of revolutionizing retail for the good of those working in the sector, and our societies, more broadly. This movement is truly historic and laying the foundation for a more hopeful future.

For a list of Black Friday Action, click here.

To sponsor a striker, click here.

To read a thorough but concise breakdown of the Walmart strikers’ issues, click here.

To read the International Transport Workers’ Federation statement on their solidarity actions, click here.

To read the new Demos report on retail wages, click here.

Retail Workers Organizing to Keep Statutory Holidays

 

Retail workers in Toronto, Canada, including those in CAW Local 414, are working to keep the current nine statutory holidays as days off for retail workers. Read about their efforts here.  Given how hard folks in retail work, and often for so little, this is an important work-life issue. It also could encourage discussion about paid holidays for retail workers.  Some unionized retail workers have paid holidays through their collective agreements, but most do not. As a comparison, all retail workers in Sweden enjoy five weeks of paid holidays.

Global Support and Coverage for Walmart Workers

The retail workers’ movement is growing, and Walmart strikers are attracting international attention.  Members of OUR Walmart have announced their intention to expand and increase their collective actions, targeting “Black Friday,” a major US shopping day and the beginning of the holiday shopping season, the biggest money maker for retailers. Their call for change has inspired workers around the world.

Making Change photo.

Here is global media coverage of the strikes in the Guardian.

Walmart is the largest private sector employer in the world, and it affects labour standards and relations in retail and beyond.  Workers at Walmart rightly believe they deserve a say in setting those standards.

Walmart Strikes Spreading Across the US

Inspired by their co-workers’ bravery last week, and by a desire to unite for change, today workers walked off the job at Walmart stores in DallasTexas; Miami, Florida; Seattle, Washington; Laurel, Maryland; and Northern, Central, and Southern California. Read about their incredible story here.

This is a useful column on the issues at stake.

You can send the workers your support in seconds here.

Retail Activism Growing

It has been a busy time for retail workers and their allies around the world.   California warehouse workers wrapped up their two week, 50 mile pilgrimage for safe work, having built mass support for their cause.  In Illinois, workers at a Walmart supplier warehouse are on strike for better working conditions, and 17 supporters were arrested during a large day of action.  In the US, France, and around the world, workers in Apple stores are campaigning for change. Vous pouvez lire cet article sur les problèmes et efforts en France. In India, a national strike was held against proposed changes to the retail sector, which saw shopkeepers, workers, and unionists uniting.

In assessing this growing retail activism, the diversity of participants is noteworthy.  So too is the fact that a wide range of strategies are being used, and that the efforts are both about resisting poor conditions, and proactively proposing new ways to view retail work and workers.