JOSH EIDELSON: Sure. So that’s similar to the reaction that I’ve gotten in my reporting for Salon from Wal-Mart spokespeople. It is true that the workers who’ve gone on strike are a very small fraction, about one in 10,000 of Wal-Mart’s total workforce. But they’ve taken a very dramatic action, and they’ve done it based on assertions, based on frustrations, that clearly are shared by a larger group of workers. And neither what a particular spokesperson nor a particular survey says can speak to what the depth of frustration is.
Now, you’ll hear different things from different workers, but I, for example, talked to someone who makes less than $10 an hour, talked about how the workers who get paid one week have to then lend money to the workers who won’t get paid until the next week, because people don’t afford lunch. When—as The Nation reported this week, as Bryce Covert noted, the independent estimates that have been done are that Wal-Mart workers make less than Wal-Mart says they do. Even Wal-Mart claims that they make less than $13 an hour.
And so, the question of labor involvement, it should be clear that the organization in play here, OUR Walmart, is closely tied to the United Food and Commercial Workers. It is no secret that labor has long struggled against Wal-Mart, because Wal-Mart is one of the world’s largest employers, the largest private-sector employer. It drives down standards. It’s aggressively fought unionization. And we’re at a moment when—it used to be in U.S. history that unionized companies successfully pushed up the standards in industries even for non-union workers. Right now in this industry, we see that standards, even for union workers, have been driven down by Wal-Mart. And so, it is an existential threat to the labor movement. And what we’ve seen in these strikes is a greater level of success and a greater level of risk taken by workers in order to fight Wal-Mart than we’ve seen over the past decades.