The Organization United for Respect at Walmart, known as OUR Walmart, launched their second Black Friday “walk out” nationwide against America’s largest retailer, Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. — locally, no hourly associates participated.
The day after Thanksgiving, known in retail circles as “Black Friday”, has traditionally been the busiest shopping day of the year; so, the group who claims to be organized “for hourly associates” of Walmart, has adopted the day to bring their protest to local Walmart stores across the country — including St Augustine.
A familiar face was involved in the local protest, Terry Buckenmeyer — a delegate of the Gainesville General Membership Branch of Industrial Workers of the World.
Buckenmeyer was an organizer involved in the “Occupy St Augustine” movement and comrade-in-arms with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers for “fair food and justice in the fields”, protesting the new Publix store opening at Vilano Beach Town Center.
Reports of as few as eight people showed up for the “OUR Walmart” St Augustine protest which lasted about two hours Friday morning.
Walmart has aggressively sought out any source of negative information about the company over the years. They are a litigious corporation that has successfully squashed critical Internet websites, comments by forum posters and sought retribution against employees of the company who try to take their First Amendment rights out for a little exercise.
For example, complaints from Walmart attorneys lead to the Internet domain registration of the organization’s first website, “ourwalmart.org” being taken down. Today, a message from the company is posted at that URL. It reads, “For factual information about Walmart, including its outstanding career opportunities, visit www.walmartstores.com”
There are limits on what disgruntled employees can do. They are not free to disclose confidential information about a company online, nor can they make untruthful disparaging remarks about a company online.
However, Section 7 of the National Labor Relations Act protects the ability of Walmart associates to come together to talk about workplace issues and work together to make change. A ruling by the National Labor Relations Board made clear that these rights extend to social media, so, it appears that Walmart associates are free to discuss their jobs and even criticize their employer’s bad policies on the Internet.
The organization did not go away. They now host their website at www.forrespect.org and have a facebook page with over 19,000 “likes”. The page is most popular among the age group “25-34 years old” according to http://www.facebook.com/OURWMT