– By Jeff Monahan Black Friday strikes at Walmart The most intriguing story in the U.S. this week involves superstore giant Walmart.  This Thursday is Thanksgiving in the States, and the day after marks the beginning of the winter holiday season.  It i …

Walton Pantland

– By Jeff Monahan

Black Friday strikes at Walmart

The most intriguing story in the U.S. this week involves superstore giant Walmart.  This Thursday is Thanksgiving in the States, and the day after marks the beginning of the winter holiday season.  It is called “Black Friday” because many retailers are supposed to finally get out of the “red” and start turning a profit.  Walmart has plainly and shamelessly refused to recognize any attempt to organize by its employees for decades – despite being the largest private-sector employer in the nation – but now a strike is in the works for Black Friday, the biggest shopping day of the year.  Walmart has filed in court to block the strikes which could seriously damage their profit margins on the day.  Obviously, labor union enthusiasts will keep a close eye on what develops on Friday. More information here.

Collective bargaining ballot in Michigan

Michigan had an amendment on its ballot that would have added collective bargaining rights into its state Constitution.  The proposal lost, 57% to 43%, but there is a silver lining.  First, the state has really struggled economically for the last decade.  Some saw the amendment as too radical a change for a state whose recovery requires delicate hands.  It’s possible that a state with a healthier economy could pass a similar resolution.  Second, Michigan Governor Rick Snyder stated that he does not want to see a bill on his desk that would govern the extent to which a union could require employees’ membership and dues.  Many states have passed this type of legislation that curtails union power but Michigan does not seem interested at this time.  So, although it’s disappointing that the proposal did not pass on the ballot, it does not look like any action will be taken to cut away at Michigan unions’ current powers. More on that story here.

The end of Twinkies

Every American grew up with or is at least familiar with Hostess cupcakes and “Twinkies” but shelves will soon be empty.  The popular business folded this week and blamed it on the Bakery, Confectionery Tobacco and Grain Millars International Union, despite years of poor business decisions and mismanagement.  There is no doubt that negotiations completely broke down but the company had gone through six CEOs since 2002, filed for bankruptcy twice since 2004, bought back tons of its own stock before the recession, and completely failed to innovate and strategize.  It’s possible that Hostess will be acquired at the last minute and save 18,500 jobs, but it looks unlikely and it’s a shame so many fingers are being pointed at the union. More here.


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Walton Pantland

South African trade unionist living in Glasgow. Loves whisky, wine, running and the great outdoors. Walton did an MA in Industrial Relations at Ruskin, Oxford, and is interested in how trade unions use new technology to organise.

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