Capital Briefs

Union calls Walmart owners robbers

This article originally appeared on watchdog.org.

Accusing Walmart’s owners of “robbing America,” a labor union fueled by workers’ mandatory dues led protests recently demanding full-time hours and $15 hourly wages for the mega-retailer’s employees.

Walmart’s corporate headquarters, Wal-Mart Stores Inc., says the company has more than 1.3 million employees and in 2013 promoted 170,000 “to jobs with more responsibility and higher pay.” This summer, The Wall Street Journal reported on a study concluding Walmart store managers are paid an average of $92,462.

Demonstrations last week against the Walton family, founders of Walmart, were coordinated in Arizona, New York and Washington, D.C., by “Organization United for Respect at Walmart” and “Making Change at Walmart,” two United Food and Commercial Workers campaigns to unionize Walmart workers.

UFCW headquarters in D.C. had 1,274,156 members and received $210 million in revenue from its state and local affiliates in 2013, based on its latest report to the U.S. Department of Labor. With the union’s monthly dues ranging from $15.04 to $20.15 per member, UFCW stands to gain tens of millions of dollars if even a small portion of Walmart’s workforce votes to unionize.

At UFCW’s Oct. 16 D.C. demonstration, protesters marched and sat in the streets with Making Change at Walmart printouts reading, “Standing Up for OUR Jobs,” “The Waltons are robbing America” and “Didn’t your mother teach you to share?

In D.C. and 26 states, workers can be forced to pay UFCW as a condition of employment. UFCW took mandatory fees from 7,292 nonmembers in 2013 and paid union President Joseph Hansen a salary of $297,971.

Including expenses and other disbursements, Hansen was paid $350,960. UFCW Canada President Wayne Hanley was paid a total of $372,548, and several other UFCW officials were paid more than $300,000.

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka called UFCW’s D.C. protest a “powerful stand against what the Walton Family is doing to America.” UFCW is a member of the AFL-CIO coalition, which paid Trumka $322,131 in its most recent fiscal year.

UFCW thanked Trumka for attending the protest and “for all you do to help people feed their families,” but did not respond to a Watchdog.org request to clarify how the Waltons are “robbing America.”

After being refused entry to the offices of The Walton Family Foundation, UFCW protesters in D.C. blocked the intersection of 18th Street and K Street. “Walmart workers won’t be moved,” UFCW asserted. “They’re staying put because they need a living wage and full time hours NOW.”

UFCW’s D.C. demonstrators cheered at the news their counterparts in New York had been arrested. By 3 p.m. Thursday, the D.C. contingent had been arrested, as well.

UFCW framed the arrest of its protesters for sitting in the street as further evidence of their victimhood.


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