The District of Columbia is the nation’s Capital and therefore a lightning rod for national organizing, but it is also the home of 600,000 people who deal day-to-day with the consequences of many of the important issues that get protested downtown. Often, there is a great divide in DC between locally and nationally focused groups even though these groups encounter the same difficulties, require many of the same resources and often have similar goals. This leads to competing for attention, attendees, media and support while wasting that most valuable of resources, time, by duplicating efforts. Often times there are class and race divides between local and national organizers, adding to the power dynamics and complicated relationships.
According to the Organization United for Respect at Walmart, 1,000 protests occurred at Walmart stores across 46 states, with hundreds of workers walking off the job in an unprecedented decentralized, open-source strike at the retail giant. Nine people, including three Walmart workers, were arrested in Los Angeles for blocking traffic. Local Occupy groups supported actions in dozens of cities. OWS joined with 99 Pickets, ALIGN, the Retail Action Project, and others to show solidarity to Walmart workers in Secaucus, New Jersey. Despite attempts by Walmart's propaganda department to downplay the events, the latest massive wave of strikes and solidarity actions at Walmart forced even the corporate media to pay attention, and put the 1% on notice: When we work together, another world is possible. We do not have to accept poverty, low wages, or unfair working conditions with no benefits while six members of the Walton family are worth more than the bottom 42% of American families combined.
However, the struggle is far from over! Today's inspiring actions point the way forward. Please continue to support OUR Walmart and all low-wage workers in the struggle for economic justice and show support for the courageous workers and unemployed people on the frontlines against income inequality.
Picket line happening right now in Miami! -- other actions, including walk-outs, have already begun in Ohio, California, Maryland, New York, Florida, Texas, Indiana, Wisconsin, Arizona, North Dakota, Alabama, and growing as of 11pm Eastern time! See below for info on following live updates
We are reaching out to you today to see if you would consider supporting the Walmart workers who are being unfairly fired for organizing their peers.
Why should I support the workers?
Getting fired for demonstrating is a scary thing. We at the Occupy Solidarity Network would like to help alleviate that worry for anyone who is fired in retribution for organizing or demonstrating at Walmart. Walmart workers decided in October 2012 to strike on Black Friday after they were targeted for retaliation for speaking out against substandard work conditions and treatment in the first ever walk out in the history of the company. Now we are looking at a world in which the bravest workers of Walmart are being fired so they may be silenced.
We will support the workers participating in organizing efforts and nonviolent demonstrations in support of the fight for economic civil rights of the Walmart worker effort. Money raised will go towards paying stipends and living expenses for workers fired for organizing and participating in acts of peaceful civil disobedience.
If you listen to the mainstream media in Canada and Québec (or
elsewhere), you could be forgiven for believing that Québec's student
movement is running on cold embers these days. After a historic and
lively protest movement that saw hundreds of actions and hundreds of
thousands of people in the street demanding an end to the continued
neoliberalization of the education sector, a great victory was
achieved when the newly-elected Parti Québécois promptly repealed the
tuition hikes proposed by the former government. But this victory has
proven to be far from the end of the story for Québec's students,
which inspired the world with their activism, and - strangely enough -
brought banging pots and pans back in vogue.
The tenacious group of students known as CLASSE have reformed their
organization as the ASSÉ - roughly in English the "Association for a
Solidaric Student Union." ASSÉ, not content with wasting the momentum
they fought so hard to gain, is preparing to take the tuition fight to
the next level by demanding free university-level education be
guaranteed for everyone. Today's (continuing the tradition of monthly protests on the 22nd of the month) brought this demand back to the forefront of the
education debate in Québec. Thousands marched in Montreal, and nearly 60,000 students were on strike today. A recent press release by the group stated
that "in reality, though the tuition hike has been cancelled, teaching
institutions are not sheltered from other dangers such as the
commodification of knowledge." ASSÉ continues to lead the way in
demonstrating how education in a free and fair society can really work.
Aside from the fight for free education, there are many exciting
developments on the front to ensuring the tuition hikes are beaten
back for good. The newly-elected governments' Higher Education
minister, Pierre Duchesne, will be hosting a roundtable commission on
the financing of universities in Québec, which receive a large portion
of their funding from the government as public universities. A great
number of scandals have arisen in recent months. Notably, Concordia
University (which the author attends) was hit with a $2,000,000 fine
for granting $3.1 million in severance packages to 6 departing staff
members, one of which then pocketed the money and returned to the
university with a salaried position only a few months later.
Radio-Canada later learned that one of the University of Sherbrooke's
expensive new Longueuil campus buildings, found at the time to be
necessary expansion of the university, is almost vacant and lacking
private partners three years after its opening. Because of these
frequent and continuing scandals, the student movements are eager to
meet Minister Duchesne and defend student budgets against the excesses
of the universities' senseless spending sprees.
And finally, student organizations continue to contest the violent
police repression that was seen during the student strike. This week,
students at the CÉGEP du Vieux-Montréal (a post-secondary college)
voted with a nearly two-thirds majority to go on strike again this
week, demanding that the government drop all criminal charges against
student strikers. At this time, there are hundreds of charges awaiting
student strikers for a variety of actions of civil disobedience that
were committed. The ASSÉ, as well as the two other student groups
representing university and CÉGEP students, have partnered with
several prominent unions in Québec to call for a full inquiry into
police repression and violence against the student movement.
[This quote is] relevant to an argument I just had about “disruptive” protest at Walmart in supposed solidarity with the Black Friday strikes. Picket, protest, march and rally all you want, hold a sit-in, but please, before you do things like deliberately create a mess in the store or leave a full cart in the checkout line, consider who’s going to have to clean up the mess that you make. It’s not going to be Rob Walton or any of the other multibillionaires. It won’t even be the assistant manager. It’ll be the same low-wage worker who maybe wanted to go on strike but wasn’t quite convinced, or who was threatened by their boss, who’s working an extra-long shift on the worst shopping day of the year.
Solidarity doesn’t mean you decide for yourself what is best for the workers. It means showing up in the ways they need and want you to and letting them decide how to build worker power.
We ask you to reflect on the statement issued by workers and Making Change at Walmart as you plan your Black Friday solidarity action:
Across the country, Walmart employs 1.4 million people. We are not just the Associates that you see in stores, we are moms and dads, sons and daughters, husbands and wives working hard to support our families.
We have been speaking out for good jobs with decent pay, regular hours, affordable healthcare and respect, but instead of working with us to make changes, Walmart has attempted to silence us and has retaliated against us for speaking out. Our jobs have been threatened, our hours cut, our schedules changed. Some of us have even been fired.
We will not be silenced. Throughout the holiday season, including Black Friday, we will be standing up for an end to the retaliation against workers who speak out for what’s right for our families, our communities and our country, and we hope that you will stand with us. It is not an easy decision, but without an end to the retaliation, Walmart workers across the country will be walking off the job in protest, and we hope you will join us in creative, non-violent action in solidarity with our strike. We ask that supporters take action that spreads the word about our strikes and demonstrates to Walmart a wave of support for workers who are speaking out.
Together, we are calling on Walmart to end the retaliation against hard-working employees who are courageously speaking out for better pay, fair schedules and more hours, affordable health care and respect.
We will not be silenced until we see real change at Walmart.