As part of its national effort to unionize Walmart stores called the “Our Walmart Campaign” the United Food & Commercial Workers International hired some non-union workers, but according to the New York Post on Thursday, a year and a half ago when those non-union workers tried to organize, the union fired several of them.
Those fired were Seattle-based organizers who said the dismissals came several months after they reached out to the union that represents UFCW employees, the insider told The Post.
They wanted to know why they were not covered by the same contract as their colleagues.
“As union organizers, it’s our job to teach people about their labor rights and how to be more effective at Walmart,” said one of the fired UFCW employees, who did not want to be identified.
The UFCW “is all for workers’ rights yet it denied its own staff union contracts and didn’t pay us overtime and eventually fired us for reaching out to a union,” the ousted worker said.
According to that fired worker, they had worked on the campaign full time for three years before they were fired, and earned about $10k a year less than their unionized colleagues who did the same work out of the same office.
Before they were fired, they organized a big push at Walmart in preparation for a rolling strike across the country in June 2014.
“The three of us got the turnout of Walmart workers in Seattle who were part of the strike,” said one of the Seattle employees. “The next week they fired us.”
When the paper tried to contact the top Union officials about the firing, they were told to talk to the two OUR Walmart campaign directors at the time (but those two campaign directors were kicked to the curb themselves in June 2015).
This type of union hypocrisy is nothing new. For example, when Jim Callaghan, a 13-year veteran PR writer for the NY City’s United Federation of Teachers tried to organize a union he was fired.
Callaghan said he personally told UFT President Michael Mulgrew about his intention to try to organize the nonunionized workers at UFT headquarters:
“I told him I want to have the same rights that teachers have,” said Callaghan, 63, of Staten Island. “He told me he didn’t want that, that he wanted to be able to fire whoever he wanted to.”
Ironically one of the UFT’s priorities is to make it impossible for school administrations to fire teachers.
Recently Los Angeles raised its minimum wage to $15/per hour. The bill was passed partially though the effort of the local unions who fought against any exceptions to the minimum wage.
For much of the past eight months, labor activists have argued against special considerations for business owners, such as restaurateurs, who said they would have trouble complying with the mandated pay increase.
But Rusty Hicks, who heads the county Federation of Labor and helps lead the Raise the Wage coalition, said Tuesday night that companies with workers represented by unions should have leeway to negotiate a wage below that mandated by the law.
“With a collective bargaining agreement, a business owner and the employees negotiate an agreement that works for them both. The agreement allows each party to prioritize what is important to them,” Hicks said in a statement. “This provision gives the parties the option, the freedom, to negotiate that agreement. And that is a good thing.”
Actually what “the good thing” Mr. Hicks was talking about is that companies will be encouraging their employees to unionize so they can save on labor costs while unions will be able to increase their membership rolls. The only “bad thing” is the union members get screwed because the minimum wage doesn’t apply to them.
Like so many progressive organizations what unions expect from everyone else never applies to what they expect of themselves.
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