Wal-Mart, Workers and the Web

The battle over workers’ rights at Wal-Mart is increasingly being fought in cyberspace.

A number of unions, American and global alike, have recently launched high-profile websites aimed at focussing public attention on the giant retailer.
Wal-Mart Watch (http://walmartwatch.com/) is a project of the Center for Community & Corporate Ethics, and if that name means nothing to you, its Board of Directors lists “Andrew Stern, President, Service Employees International Union” first. The 1.8 million member SEIU is one of the unions that has Wal-Mart in its sites. Stern himself has urged the AFL-CIO, the national trade union centre in the United States, to devote tens of millions of dollars to organizing Wal-Mart. This website is dominated by frequently-updated news about the company, but also includes a mailing list, a tell-a-friend option, and a suggestion box for “your ideas … to build a better Wal-Mart”.
Another union-backed initiative is Wake Up Wal-Mart (http://www.wakeupwalmart.com/), sponsored the the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW). Like the SEIU-backed Wal-Mart Watch, this site features news, a mailing list, and background information. But it also specifically targets Wal-Mart employees. Curiously, when you click on the link for Wal-Mart employees, instead of getting the expected form for joining a union, or even requesting information about joining a union, you get a request to “fill out the form below and include any experiences you had while working at Wal-Mart.” Just above this on the front page there’s a promising headline — “Wal-Mart workers speak out” — but it is only one worker, for now.
Another giant North American union, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, has set up a Wal-Mart site of its own, which it’s calling “Wal-Mart Workers Unite, the website dedicated to Teamsters organizing at Wal-Mart distribution centers, Wal-Mart driving units, and Sam

3 Comments on "Wal-Mart, Workers and the Web"

  1. Mark – I’m a fan of unions designing their websites intelligently so that one can easily remember the URLs. In your example above, while it’s certainly easier than the existing addresses, it’s not memorable. The Teamsters should be using http://www.teamster.org/wal-mart (and teamster.org/walmart should work as well). LabourStart uses more and more of these memorable, easy-to-guess, easy-to-pass-on addresses, such as http://www.labourstart.org/wal-mart or http://www.labourstart.org/eritrea

  2. Yes Eric, I do agree!
    But from my experience Unions are a little slow on the technology game, so we need work-arounds. TinyUrls is one such example I believe.
    Currently I think that the only folks who care about these issues are those of us who are online. So, what is needed are email addresses that won’t break when forwarded around the net.
    Best, Mark

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