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At Least Two Workers from Minnesota Involved in 'Strike' against Walmart

Walmart stores in West St. Paul and IGH appear to be safe from any degree of labor dispute.

At least two Walmart workers from Minnesota have "walked off the job" as part of a nationwide strike effort that has spread to 12 cities or states, according to officials with the United Food & Commercial Workers' (UFCW) Making a Change at Walmart campaign.

The two confirmed striking Minnesota employees work at stores in Apple Valley and Sauk Center, UCFW spokesperson Janna Pea confirmed by phone Tuesday from Bentonville, AR.

West St. Paul Walmart manager—identified only as 'Daniel'—was not aware of any labor disputes at his store. IGH Walmart assistant manager—identified as 'Candice'—declined comment and referred Patch to the Walmart public relations department. 

Workers in Arkansas—including the two Minnesotans—were gathering for an organizing action today at Walmart's corporate headquarters, Pea told Patch. 

'Finally Decided Someone Needs to Speak Up'
The Apple Valley Walmart associate, who identified himself only as Gabriel, said he traveled to Bentonville Tuesday to "come together with my coworkers" and "help them get their ideas heard, get Walmart to start listening."

Gabriel said he's 24, has been with Walmart for nearly two years, and works part time for $9 an hour. He said he would like to see more full time work available, with increased benefits and more predictable work schedules. He called himself "conservative" and said he's leery of unions ("I've never really been that type"), but took action out of concern for coworkers.

"For me, I can deal with it. I'm helping out others' situations. They're caught between a rock and a hard place," Gabriel said. "They can't afford to speak up. I finally decided someone needs to speak up for them."

Action Planned Today
The Huffington Post
 reported that 88 workers from 28 various stores went on strike Tuesday. Some are members of Organization United for Respect — or "OUR Walmart" — who support the recent movement, a UFCW spokesperson noted.

Walmart workers who are not unionized have been complaining about low pay and a lack of benefits for awhile, according to the Huffington Post report. The members of OUR Walmart are coming together today to announce to provoke change for Walmart employees who have expressed that they shouldn't be silenced just for speaking out for better jobs and a stronger community.

Warehouse workers plan today to join striking workers from the Los Angeles and Dallas areas to call for change on their jobs.

Strike or Stunt?
One labor expert told the New York Times it was hard to know exactly what to call the job action:

Julius G. Getman, a labor expert at the University of Texas School of Law, said it can be hard to draw a line between what is a strike and what is publicity. He said the union and OUR Walmart were searching for ways to get Wal-Mart to improve wages and conditions when they see how hard it would be to unionize even a handful of Walmart stores.

For Gabriel, the Apple Valley worker, the trip to Bentonville with OUR Walmart is the culmination of six to eight months or "reading up and seeing what they're about.

"It's my first time," he said. "They're trying to do something really cool. ... It looks like it's gaining traction."

Jim W October 14, 2012 at 01:04 PM
It is sad for them to think the UFCW can actually help them, this is a desperate union looking for dues so they can continue to be paid without going to work on the backs of people who go to work. UFCW has put more employees out of work then into work, several retailers have closed their doors over the years because of them, retail competition is tuff business if wages are too low or conditions are not what you want try working for the compitition they pay about the same. Obama Care is what has taken any chance you had of going full time, several companies will cut back this year on full time if Obama is re-elected...start the change you want at the voting booth.

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