Wal-Mart Protests Are Potemkin Villages

So-Called Strikes Involve Few Workers, Stage-Managed by the United Food and Commercial Workers Union

Last year, media outlets echoed labor union talking points put forward by the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) and its two front groups, Organization United for Respect at Walmart (OUR Walmart) and Making Change at Walmart (MCW) that claimed that Wal-Mart workers had gone on widespread strikes.


Those talking points were false: All available evidence indicates that at most a few hundred of Wal-Mart’s over 1 million hourly employees have participated in these highly stage-managed union-led protests that consist overwhelmingly of union organizers and outside liberal activists.

Compare the Hype:

  • Walmart employees striking locally, nationally on Black Friday — Fox 31 Denver
  • Walmart Workers Walked Out On Black Friday — BuzzFeed Business
  • What’s on Tap for Black Friday: Strikes, Protests, Anger – Oh, and Some Deals Too! —TIME
  • Wal-Mart Striking Workers Threaten Black Friday — KTTV Fox Los Angeles
  • Wal-Mart protests and strikes throughout nation change tone of Black Friday — Q13 Fox

With the Reality:

  • “No Walmart workers in attendance at Mobile Walmart picketing”—AL.com
  • “About 60 people gathered to demonstrate at the Salt Lake City Wal-Mart against what they are calling unfair treatment of Wal-Mart employees by the corporation. However, none of the Wal-Mart employees have currently joined in the walk out.”—KSL Salt Lake City
  • “His curiosity was correct, not all protesters were Walmart employees. Outside union organizers were also on hand.”—CBS Sacramento
  • “Organization United for Respect at Wal-Mart (OUR Walmart) transported protesters around the city in buses.”—WBEZ Chicago
  • “This was just one of dozens of protests that popped up nationwide today. Some Wal Mart workers have even gone on strike, though not the case here in Ithaca.”—WENY Ithaca
  • “This was not that labor action.  It was not even the labor action that could eventually snowball into that labor action.”—The Daily Beast

According to Wal-Mart’s own estimates, fewer than 100 associates actually struck on Black Friday 2012. The UFCW’s front groups also held a “day of action” on Sept. 5, 2013; Wal-Mart estimates that only 50 employees actually walked off their shifts.