OUR Walmart was founded by the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW), and was an integral part of UFCW’s organizing efforts. The OUR Walmart campaign launched strategic wildcat walkouts and press stunts designed to pressure Walmart and its employees into unionizing. Although OUR Walmart’s aim was to protest supposed unfair labor practices, the group’s union ties indicated that its real aim was to unionize Walmart associates. Additionally, OUR Walmart’s claim of widespread active worker discontent was dubious, and the organization’s demonstrations appeared strongly to be “Astroturf” — fake grassroots.
Connection to UFCW
A disclaimer on OUR Walmart’s website stated that OUR Walmart was “an independent, not-for-profit organization for hourly Associates.” But, according to the UFCW’s federal fiscal filings with the Department of Labor (Form LM-2) for 2011, OUR Walmart was listed as a subsidiary of UFCW.
Additionally, UFCW local unions provided significant support to the OUR Walmart campaign. Reports indicate that OUR Walmart recruited Walmart employee supporters from previous UFCW campaigns such as Wake Up Walmart. The UFCW also recruited a high-powered liberal political consultancy formerly headed by senior Obama 2008 campaign adviser David Axelrod to run the OUR Walmart and Making Change at Walmart (openly in-house UFCW) campaigns.
OUR Walmart Protests Involved Very Few Workers
OUR Walmart was most notable for staging annual protests on “Black Friday” (the day after Thanksgiving that is traditionally America’s busiest shopping day), although all available evidence suggested most of the agitators were not striking employees. Walmart officials claim that as few as 50 actual employees missed shifts due to labor actions in 2012, while news reports suggested that at most a handful of the OUR Walmart protesters were actually striking employees.
Alleged Violations of State Laws
Protesters affiliated with OUR Walmart demonstrated at the homes of Walmart officials during the company’s annual meeting and even made empty threats promising massive actions to disrupt the general shareholders’ meeting. In response to intimidatory picketing, Walmart filed for restraining orders against the UFCW and OUR Walmart in Florida and Arkansas state courts. Additionally, Walmart alleged that OUR Walmart’s disruptions of in-store operations amounted to trespassing before courts in Texas and California; Walmart’s attorneys reported that restraining orders were granted.
Where is OUR Walmart Today?
In 2015, UFCW’s current president Mark Perrone took office, and substantially defunded OUR Walmart. That same year, the two leaders of the OUR Walmart campaign were fired. As the Washington Examiner then noted: “The abrupt change in union strategy is a tacit admission that OUR Walmart’s efforts have been an abject failure.”
Today, OUR Walmart goes by the name of United for Respect. The majority of the group’s union funding between 2017-2019 came from UFCW Local 21. Although the campaign has been rebranded, a legal notice at the bottom of its website confirms its ties to OUR Walmart.
The notice reads: “Legal Notice: Courts have enjoined non-Associate OUR Walmart agents from entering any Walmart property, except to shop, in Arkansas (Read the order), Florida (Read the order), Texas (Read the order), Colorado (Read the order), Ohio (Read the order), and Maryland (Read the order) from entering inside stores. A court has enjoined non-Associate OUR Walmart agents from entering the insides of stores in California to engage in activities, such as picketing, patrolling, marching, parading, flash mobs, demonstrations, handbilling solicitation, manager confrontations or customer disruptions (Read the order).”