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#GamonalEffect Reignites Mass Protest Across Spain

Posted 8 months ago on Jan. 16, 2014, noon EST by OccupyWallSt
Tags: M15, direct action, Take the Square, Spain

Who would have thought that a relatively conservative city like Burgos, Spain would have detonated a string of spontaneous and massive protest across the country? Over the past four days, social media networks across the globe have exploded with the hashtag #Gamonal and #EfectoGamonal, viralizing this small town’s struggle against rising property prices and corrupt municipal dealings to international attention, and along the way reawaken national indignation that has been simmering in Spain for years.

The conflict originated around the slatted construction of an expensive multi-story parking garage in the densely populated center of Gamonal, a working class neighborhood of Burgos. The project is to be lead by developer and local media tycoon Antonio Miguel Méndez Pozo, a former felon charged with corruption and with ties to the right-wing Popular Party. Mendez Pozo is seen as an emblematical figure, responsible for the runaway property prices that stem from years of collusion between elected officials and private real estate developers and his control of the regions biggest newspaper. Public demonstrations began on Monday, as local residents perplexed by the scale and invasiveness of the new development, went to the streets demanding a refocusing of priorities to address the city’s chronic unemployment and underfunded public services. Once the internet got a hold of it, the rising up of this working class community became a battle cry to denounce the general corruption of the Spanish government long ago taken over by banks and private interest. Under the banner of the #GamonalEffect Solidarity marches assembled in Madrid, Seville, Valladolid, Logroño, Oviedo, Zaragoza, and Barcelona.

Yesterday, firefighters in Barcelona congregated in Plaça de Catalunya in an impressive show of force carrying signs that read “If Burgos can, We can too”.

Last night in Madrid 13 demonstrators were arrested as thousands took to the streets of the Gran Via.

Demonstrators were quickly bailed out thanks to crowd funding efforts. The #GamonalEffect reminds us of the latent potential of networks created after the #M15 and #TaketheSquare movements in 2011.

Today we all stand united by #Gamonal because their struggle is our struggle: people having a voice in the face of a brutal economic system that puts profits before people.

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Walmart Organizes Against Workers

Posted 8 months ago on Jan. 14, 2014, 11:59 p.m. EST by OccupyWallSt
Tags: Walmart, leak, direct action

Poverty Pay Keeps Prices Low

Following the release of a claim from Anonymous that Walmart would be targeted, we received the following secret internal documents on Walmart’s attempts to thwart workers who are mobilizing for basic rights and a decent wage. These documents go a long way in revealing just how scared Walmart is of its own workers standing together for change.

FACT CHECK: OUR Walmart is not a union nor is it seeking union recognition. OUR Walmart is simply a group of Walmart hourly workers who have come together to address issues in their stores.

FACT CHECK: Walmart falsely claims that OUR Walmart is seeking union recognition and trying to build a union, because under US labor law, this would take away some of the rights of striking workers. OUR Walmart workers have gone on strike to stand up to Walmart’s retaliation against workers when they have come together to speak out about issues like decent pay, respect in the workplace and getting enough hours to survive. These are legally protected unfair labor practice strikes. Walmart wants people to believe that these are strikes for union recognition so that it can freely fire and target workers, rather than be forced to obey the law and respect their right to speak up.

FACT CHECK: OUR Walmart and UFCW are not seeking to represent Walmart workers.

FACT CHECK: Some of the materials claim that Walmart “takes care” of its own associates. Walmart actually costs tax-payers $900,000 a store in subsidies because they care so poorly for their associates. Recently, a store Walmart held a food drive, for its own workers who can’t afford to eat.

FACT CHECK: Of course workers organizing does not guarantee any result, but we’ve already seen the result of doing nothing and you can guarantee that nothing will get better if people don’t stand up to bullying tactics, insufficient hours and low pay.

FACT CHECK: Walmart claims to have open lines of communication through its “open door policy.” This is really a divide-and-conquer tactic, in which the company makes a single worker bring issues to management alone. This means the “open door” is closed to groups who wish to raise issues together and is one way Walmart seeks to deal with people individually, instead of collectively in a stronger group.

FACT CHECK: Walmart claims to be transparent, but doesn’t even supply its workers with a policy manual. They have to access company policies at work on the company network, without time to fully review, rather than having a clear understanding of what is required and allowed.

FACT CHECK: OUR Walmart is a group of Associates who are speaking and representing themselves.

FACT CHECK: What this graph doesn’t tell you is what happened to wages and the middle class when union membership dropped.

via Huffington Post

FACT CHECK: OUR Walmart dues are $5/month and goes to support the organizing work of OUR Walmart. Workers are still welcome to participate if they do not pay dues or are unable to continue paying dues.

FACT CHECK: Making Change at Walmart is the UFCW-led coalition that works in solidarity with OUR Walmart, much like Occupy Wall Street.

FACT CHECK: Walmart workers, in most other countries, have union representation - the United States is an anomaly. When asked why that is the case, then International Chief Executive and soon-to-be Walmart CEO said “We have a local philosophy. It’s our intention to demonstrate that we are a great corporate citizen.”

FACT CHECK: Despite Walmart’s acronym “TIPS” Walmart has recently gotten into trouble for breaking most of the rules outlined in the acronym.

Here is a report documenting the company’s recent systematic worker abuses

The report also documents how Walmart has tried to silence communities along with workers through:

  • Restraining orders against protesters
  • Selective enforcement of company policies in order to provide a pretext for disciplining or terminating activists
  • Selective enforcement of the company’s solicitation policies in order to limit workers’ access to information about the benefits of organizing
  • Illegal threats that workers would face serious consequences if they organized, including economic losses
  • Illegal manipulation of store staffing in order to dilute support for organizing and union representation in the run-up to a union election
  • Illegal information gathering including coercive interrogation, eavesdropping, and remote monitoring of workers via security cameras

The National Labor Relations Board has found merit in workers’ claims of intimidation and illegal action on Walmart’s behalf. After workers went on strike over retaliation in 2013, Walmart responded by firing around 20 workers and disciplining 40 more to scare workers out of standing up for their rights.

FACT CHECK: Note that the union card on page #34 does not say anything about Walmart. OUR Walmart doesn’t sign representation over to UFCW.

FACT CHECK: Unions partner with local groups to help them hold Walmart accountable. This is not meant to harm the company, but to call on Walmart to be a good neighbor and keep its promises to the community. Walmart often makes promises about wages and jobs when it comes to a community, but there is nothing to hold them accountable. This work is all done in solidarity with the workers.

If you are a Walmart worker, there is no time like the present to start organizing your workplace. Go to: http://ChangeWalmart.org

If you are an occupy activist and you would like to help with the effort, go to: http://ChangeWalmart.org and tell them we sent you.

I'm standing up to Walmart

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