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Articles tagged direct action


Statement from #Justice4Cecily

Posted 5 months ago on May 19, 2014, 11:21 a.m. EST by OccupyWallSt
Tags: #Justice4Cecily, Cecily McMillan, direct action

Today, Cecily McMillan was sentenced to 90 days in prison for being sexually assaulted by a police officer at a protest, and then responding to that violence by defending herself. We all know that Cecily did not receive a fair trial and this case will be fought in the Court of Appeals.

The sentencing of Cecily McMillan has elicited an array of deeply felt responses from a broad range of individuals and communities, and it has also created a moment to think about what solidarity means. For many of us who consider ourselves to be part of the Occupy movement, there’s first and foremost a simple and deep sadness for a member of our community who has endured a painful and demeaning physical and sexual assault, and now has had her freedom taken away from her. And it’s painfully clear to us that Cecily’s case is not special. Sexual violence against women is disturbingly common, and there is a tremendous amount of over-policing and prosecutorial overreach by the police and the courts, enacted predominantly upon black and brown populations every single day, generation after generation.

On a broader level, there’s been a tremendous outpouring of public support in the wake of the verdict, for which Cecily and the team are truly grateful. We’re heartened, too, by the outrage this blatant, heavy-handed attempt to quash dissent has elicited from the public at large.

The message this verdict sends is clear: What Cecily continues to endure can happen to any woman who dares to challenge the corporate state, its Wall Street patrons, and their heavy handed enforcers, the NYPD.

We certainly think outrage is an appropriate response from economic and social justice activists and allies who are concerned about the silencing of those who push for change. The DA and the courts want to make an example out of Cecily—to deter us, to scare us, to keep us out of the streets. And we won’t let that happen. This ruling will not deter us, it will strengthen our resolve.

At the same time we recognize that outrage is a blunt tool that can too often obscure important distinctions. Cecily’s story represents a confluence of a number of different kinds of structural and institutional oppression that impact different communities in different ways. Expressions of shock at the mistreatment and denial of justice for Cecily—a white, cisgendered graduate student—only underline how rarely we’re proven wrong in our presumptions that common privileges of race, class and gender-normativity will be fulfilled.

It’s no great secret that police brutality and intimidation and railroading in the court system are an all-too-predictable part of life for many low-income black and brown people, immigrants, and gender nonconforming New Yorkers—the vast majority of whom receive far less than Cecily in the way of legal support and media attention. And while we're furious that, in the wake of a violent sexual assault, Cecily might now be subject to the institutionalized sexual violence of the prison system, it’s only on top of our horror at the gross injustice that countless people with significantly less recourse experience daily at the hands of that same system.

While we believe Cecily’s story can provide a rallying point around which others may challenge police sexual violence and the brutal suppression of dissent, we recognize that, at best, Cecily is an awkward symbol for the broader issues of police brutality and a broken, biased legal system. This awkwardness is but one example of many awkward scenarios regarding race and privilege that played out in Occupy communities since the original occupation of Zuccotti Park. As a movement, we see in this moment a chance not to push past, but to sit with that awkwardness—to start to reach out in ways that at times may be uncomfortable and to further stretch our boundaries. To learn from communities who’ve been in this struggle long before Occupy existed: From feminist organizations who resist patriarchal domination and combat sexual violence, to anti-racist organizations who, in their struggle for justice, have been met every step of the way by a violent police force and a legal system committed to silencing dissent.

The Occupy Wall Street Movement has been a catalyst for social and economic change. But, while we claim to be “the 99%”, building a movement that truly represents the diversity and strength of the people will require a principled approach in our activism centered around a love ethic. Bell Hooks describes the love ethic in All About Love as:

“The will to one’s self for the purpose of nurturing one’s own or another’s spiritual growth. Love is as love does, Love is an act of will—namely, both an intention and an action. Will also implies choice. We do not have to love. We choose to love.”

To build solidarity, it’s not enough to simply be a slogan or a meme—Slavoj Zizek told us during the encampment to “not fall in love with ourselves”.

Solidarity means listening and extending ourselves when oppressed communities ask—not to try to lead, but to get our hands dirty and do the work.

Building solidarity across the 99% is the only way to effectively fight the 1%, and to create genuine change. Though Zuccotti Park changed us forever, the true work began when we went back out into the world.

Many of us are now are working in communities, figuring out how to most effectively demand justice for the 99%—from copwatch, to tenant councils that combat high rents and poor living conditions, to helping build community gardens. As we continue building support networks in our new communities, for the people who still interact with one another in the movement, we are more than friends now—we are family. We’re connected because we see in each other the strength to overcome struggles we couldn’t possibly win on our own.

A member of our support team went to Rikers Island yesterday to visit Cecily and she spoke of her experiences in prison:

“I am very conscious of how privileged I am, especially in here. When you are in prison white privilege works against you. You tend to react when you come out of white privilege by saying “you can’t do that” when prison authorities force you to do something arbitrary and meaningless. But the poor understand that’s the system. They know it is absurd, capricious and senseless, that it is all about being forced to pay deference to power. If you react out of white privilege it sets you apart. I have learned to respond as a collective, to speak to authority in a unified voice. And this has been good for me. I needed this.”

“We can talk about movement theory all we want,” she went on. “We can read Michel Foucault or Pierre Bourdieu, but at a certain point it becomes a game. You have to get out and live it. You have to actually build a movement. And if we don’t get to work to build a movement now there will be no one studying movement theory in a decade because there will be no movements. I can do this in prison. I can do this out of prison. It is all one struggle.”

As Cecily continues the struggle in prison, we will continue outside. We show that we are a family not just by words, but by our actions. Paulo Freire states in Pedagogy of the Oppressed that praxis is the "reflection and action upon the world in order to transform it. Through praxis, oppressed people can acquire a critical awareness of their own condition, and, with their allies, struggle for liberation.”

Through praxis, we learn again and again that all of our grievances are connected. Our struggles are not the same. But our fates are tied up in each others. Solidarity is the only way we’ll see our way through.

To stay involved and help Cecily while she is in prison, please go to www.justiceforcecily.com for more details.

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Cecily McMillan Sentenced to 90 Days: A Call to Action

Posted 5 months ago on May 19, 2014, 10:17 a.m. EST by OccupyWallSt
Tags: #Justice4Cecily, Cecily McMillan, direct action

No #Justice4Cecily, No Peace. Rally at 7:30PM TONIGHT, Zuccotti Park

Occupy Wall Street activist Cecily McMillan has been sentenced in New York City. Her imprisonment and botched trial are just the latest in a two-year trial of injustices that leads back to her brutal arrest on March 17, 2012 in Liberty Square. She has become another symbol of the two-tiered justice system in the United States: prisons overflowing with nonviolent offenders, whistleblowers and political dissenters while thieving executives and banksters walk free.

As Gandhi said, “Poverty is the worst form of violence.” The perpetrators of the crime of poverty not only walk amongst us but are elevated by a broken system to the highest offices of government and corporate power. Enough!

When we took to the streets across our country in 2011 in dignified and peaceful protest, we were brutally arrested by militarized police officers sent to destroy our solidarity and resolve. By the thousands we occupied jail cells and courtrooms and learned of the atrocities committed to the ‘other 1%’: the 1 in 100 Americans who are currently ensnared in the prison system in some form. This is the highest rate of incarceration this country, and the world, has ever seen. Enough!

We need a mass and militantly non-violent movement to bring down the broken prison system in the USA and restore justice.

This is a call to action.

Take a one-day vow of silence against their violence. Take a picture of yourself with duct tape covering your mouth and on it write the name of a prisoner you know. Post it online. Join with others at your local District Attorney’s office for a rally or direct action. Create or join a silent candlelight vigil in your community against police brutality and for freedom for all political prisoners.

You will not be alone in your silence. We will join your silence with ours and unite in a deafening roar to let the country know we will not stand by while you destroy our loved ones’ futures.

At the end of the one-day silence, we will take bold and brave direct action together to shut down the prison-industrial complex. We will have your back.

Our silence against their violence.

Justice for Cecily!

Justice for Trayvon!

Justice for Troy Davis!

Justice for Marissa Alexander!

Justice for Chelsea Manning!

Justice for Ramarley Graham!

Justice for the victims of poverty!

Justice for the victims of systemic racism!

Justice for all.

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Plague of Liberal Tendencies in #Occupy

Posted 5 months ago on May 14, 2014, 9:34 p.m. EST by OccupyWallSt
Tags: Liberals, organizing, direct action

The liberal tendencies of some Occupiers severely undermined the movement’s strength; identifying them will make it easier to resist them next time.

In a country so devoid of genuinely left politics as the United States, it was little surprise that Occupy Wall Street (OWS), the most dynamic American social movement in decades, surged to the fore of national politics riding a robust wave of liberal euphoria. As I argue in Translating Anarchy: The Anarchism of Occupy Wall Street, OWS never would have attained historic proportions without tapping into the pervasive despair that plagued left-liberal and progressive circles after Obama’s failure to live up to the “savior of the left” hype that was so recklessly bestowed upon him in 2008. But it was liberal support for a movement that a core organizing group of anarchists and anti-capitalist anti-authoritarians shifted in an autonomous, directly democratic, non-electoral, class struggle, direct-action-oriented direction that made OWS popular, radical, and radicalizing. Without the anarchists it would have been ineffectual; without the liberals it would have been irrelevant. By carving out space for liberals and progressives to engage with anarchist praxis, OWS made a profound contribution to the development of anti-authoritarianism in the USA and beyond.

However, some of the most debilitating obstacles that we encountered stemmed from a number of liberal tendencies infecting a predominantly radical anti-capitalist organizing network. No, I’m not talking about attempts to turn Occupy into a voter-registration drive for the Democratic Party, or run “Occupy candidates” in local elections, or morph the movement into a new, hip political party that “breaks all the rules.” No, those tendencies were always peripheral and idiosyncratic within OWS, and they were cloaked in the stench of putrefying electoralism.

Instead, I’m referring to unacknowledged, internalized perspectives and orientations infected with liberalism through their constant exposure to the individualistic, capitalist climate we endure in this country. I hope that by examining a handful of them (space and time do not permit a complete list), we can better resist them next time.

1. Liberal Libertarianism

What do you get when an activist partially digests a skewed counter-cultural anti-authoritarianism without having rid themselves of their lingering liberalism? That’s right, a Liberal Libertarian. The Liberal Libertarian is the person who has learned enough about the potentially heinous repercussions of coercion and exclusion to renounce authoritarian organizing structures, but takes this in such an individualistic direction that they also often dismiss even directly democratic structures and reject collective attempts to prevent boisterous individuals from completely disrupting assemblies, meetings, actions or any other collective endeavor.

If, at a large assembly of 200 people, one person is screaming out of turn about an unrelated topic and won’t take several offers from nearby people to step aside and discuss the issue; and this happens often enough for it to get to the point where most people would rather leave the movement than endure such excruciating experiences; and it’s known that there are myriad infiltrators and provocateurs, sent by both state and capital, among us, then most people would agree that a plan would have to be put in place to prevent one person from shutting down the work of hundreds. Not the Liberal Libertarian.

The Liberal Libertarian would rather see our collective efforts grind to a screeching halt than see one person “silenced” for any reason under any context.

The Liberal Libertarian doesn’t actually care about collective power; they simply seek individual self-realization. Take this quote from Charles Eisenstein, author of Sacred Economics, in a trailer for the film Occupy Love: “this movement isn’t about the 99% defeating or toppling the 1%. You know the next chapter of that story: which is that the 99% create a new 1%. That’s not what it’s about.” Instead of expropriating a ruling class whose obscene wealth is drenched in the blood of millions, the Liberal Libertarian just wants to multiply interpersonal emotional exchanges.

When that outlook begins to infect organizing spaces, the result can be disastrous unless we have procedures and decision-making methods that can withstand Liberal Libertarianism’s corrosive effects.

2. Outcome Neutrality

Liberal Libertarianism is reactionary because it isn’t really about transforming the underlying economic or political system. Instead, it aims to enact a more authentic rendition of popular liberal principles. So while the liberals of the Democratic Party don’t really value freedom of speech, the Liberal Libertarians (in conjunction with left-liberals and progressives) often see nothing more important than creating free speech zones where traditional liberal values can be fully upheld.

This is often extended even to those who verbally derail the movement and in the case of Occupy Toronto even to the presence of Nazis. At an event in Toronto, a group of Occupy organizers explained how their encampment was split in half over whether to allow Nazis their “right to free speech” within Occupy.

But to make matters worse, this “free speech” liberal prefigurative politics infects outlooks on organizing and political struggle to the point where some activists consider it oppressive to promote a tactical direction or political agenda. Outcome Neutrality is the result. It dictates that any political direction that any group or community decides to take is essentially as worthwhile as any other. It incorporates a libertarian emphasis on autonomy and decentralization, but drains left libertarianism of its proscriptive content and reduces it to laissez faire (in the literal sense) left politics.

I once heard a guy at OWS with generally pretty decent politics say that he wanted to create an anti-capitalist, anarchist society, but if another society wanted to have capitalism that would be fine with him since he didn’t want to “impose” his “opinion” on others. Politics dissolved into atomized opinions floating in a “free speech” pond. As long as everyone has the opportunity to express themselves then whatever follows is just “democracy.”

Certainly some of this is derived from the important realization that activists and organizers shouldn’t tell other communities or groups what to do and instead should work in solidarity with others toward collective liberation. But while an anti-authoritarian outlook eschews hierarchical organizing strategies that confine collective aspirations to plans and blueprints designed by others, solidarity is not a blank check.

Truly revolutionary solidarity strikes a balance between advocating for our anti-capitalist, anti-hierarchical politics and recognizing that these values and ideas must be freely adopted rather than mandated.

Our politics must maintain an anti-authoritarian normativity if they are to avoid falling into the liberal impotence of Outcome Neutrality.

3. The Opiate of the Virtual Collective Commonwealth

The historic movements of 2011 were often reduced to technology. According to the New York Times and many others, the Egyptian Revolution “began on Facebook” with the actions of a Google marketing executive living abroad. Then “what bubbled up online spilled into the streets” and, so the narrative goes, SMS and Twitter made mass mobilizations possible. While I’m not trying to minimize the importance that innovations in communications technology have had on popular politics, from the printing press to the newspaper, from the telegraph to social media, society’s fetishization of novelty inflates the importance of the latest social media technology at the expense of less innovative or headline-worthy, but far more crucial, components of struggle.

In other words, to say that Egyptian resistance “spilled into the streets” is to miss the fact that it had been living on the streets and in workplaces, homes, neighborhoods, mosques, and churches long before any Facebook group. Sure, social media was a catalyst in the Middle East and North Africa, Southern Europe, the USA and elsewhere, but in focusing so much attention on a single catalyst we not only ignore other catalysts, we obscure the necessity of having social and economic conditions to catalyze in the first place.

And those conditions are not generated in cyberspace. The excessive focus on social media distracts us from the lived dynamics of actually-existing spheres of human sociability, and it subtly promotes a liberal prescription for political problems: that political change is primarily about disseminating isolated ideas for atomized individuals to consider, rather than organizing collectively from the ground-up and compelling our oppressors to adhere to our power. As I’ve argued elsewhere, this is a variation of what I call “the idea as motor of history,” or the notion that change follows from enough people having come into contact with a transformative idea isolated from context.

In Zuccotti Park in the fall of 2011 there were a lot of people who thought that if we could just articulate the Occupy idea to enough people they would just have to come around to it because of its sheer righteousness. But although the Occupy idea was broadcast far and wide, it was not enough on its own in the absence of strong and sustained connections with concrete struggles. Many liberals argue that all we need to do is come up the right ideas to “fix the world,” but felled-forests-worth of visionary thought has been published for some time.

We don’t need another idea; we need the power to make it happen.

Although social media and 24-hour cable news rapidly accelerated the dissemination of Occupy across the country and around the world, it catapulted OWS into the spotlight before it had accomplished the organizing that needs to happen initially in order to develop the capacity to be able to incorporate thousands of new people. We were constantly playing catch-up and before we knew it the meteoric rise of OWS was followed by a correspondingly precipitous plunge once social media and cable news moved onto the next big thing. In that way, OWS was like the pop sensation “Gangnam Style” by Korean singer Psy. For a brief window of time “everyone” sang the song and did the dance (often with an ironic detachment) just as they flooded parks and squares so they could tell their grandkids that they too had “Occupied.” But anyone who was caught blasting “Gangnam Style” (or organizing an Occupy event) a few months after it went out of style was considered hopelessly passé. Therefore, one of our most pressing questions is how to build a solid social movement that can withstand the inevitable social media hangover.

4. The Lens of the Live-Action Opinion Poll

Mainstream media coverage of political demonstrations essentially considers them live-action opinion polls that show what a large segment of the population thinks about an issue. Their liberal assumption is that the demonstration’s only value is its ability to communicate a public message to legislators. If the government accedes to the demonstration’s demand(s) it will be deemed a success, and if not (which is almost always) it is deemed a failure.

While only the most staunchly electoral activists fail to focus on the demonstration’s primary role as a catalyst for organizing society around a given issue, The Lens of the Live-Action Opinion Poll extends itself beyond its prominence in the media into how activists assess turnouts for their events. Because so many of our organizing efforts fail to generate mass support, the enormous turnouts that Occupy events generated lulled some into assessing crowds solely in terms of numbers without analyzing who the people were, what brought them out, and who they came with.

Successful movements don’t organize disaggregated, de-contextualized individuals; they organize tenants, migrants, workers, prisoners, community members, etc. based on issues directly affecting them on a daily basis. That’s part of the reason why the floods of people that surged into Occupy encampments flowed back out just as fast as they came in: the movement wasn’t sufficiently anchored in their everyday struggles.

For some new-age liberal types this question didn’t matter because through their post-identity politics they only saw a uniform sea of humanity. But this liberal discomfort with group identity manifested itself in a variety of ways such as opposition to the formation of People of Color Caucuses and organizing spaces, for example, and the promotion of a “melting pot” identity-less politics that saw everyone as “Occupiers.”

While the liberal outlook would have people lose the particularities of their oppression in an artificial unity oriented around grievances of the movement’s most well-off, a revolutionary outlook would have people find themselves through collective struggle and form links of solidarity across different planes of resistance.

5. The Myth of the Misinformed Officers of the 99%

John Steinbeck once wrote that “Socialism never took root in America because the poor see themselves not as an exploited proletariat but as temporarily embarrassed millionaires.” To that, I’d add, “Opposition to the police never took root in America because people see the police not as armed guardians of capital but as temporarily confused workers.” Of course, just as Steinbeck overstated the failure of socialism in America, I overstate the lack of opposition to the police, especially in working class communities of color. Nevertheless, as compared to many other countries around the world, the United States has had a deficiency of socialism and anti-police sentiment.

If you attend a relatively mainstream left demonstration in Latin America or southern Europe, for example, it’s quite common to hear anti-police epithets shouted and chanted without any audible dissent in the crowd. At an Occupy event, a cop could be brutalizing someone, yet shouting “fuck you” at the cop would inevitably attract the ire of several invariably white protesters.

A major reason for this is the misguided notion that the police are also part of the 99%. Space does not permit a full discussion of the limitations and problems with the 99% language, but suffice it to say that “the 99%,” just like “the working class,” when used politically is a normative rather than a purely descriptive phrase. So although the police work and are paid less than the 1% their entire raison d’être is to oppose the political advancement of the working class. Modern police forces emerged from Southern slave patrols and the need to repress labor disputes.

We need to eradicate the liberal notion that if we articulate our grievances precisely enough the police won’t bash our heads in. While in a few isolated cases some police officers might realize the reactionary nature of their profession and quit, they’d only be replaced by other working class people looking for some job security and authority, and their resignation wouldn’t address the structural nature of law enforcement as the bodyguard of the ruling class. You can’t reason with class rule.

Occupy didn’t come anywhere near threatening the ruling class and engaged in non-violent tactics but was, nevertheless, faced with systematic brutality. Imagine what the police would do if we managed to generate a powerful anti-systemic movement. The Black Panthers certainly found out.

When left to fester, these liberal tendencies leave us with activists who eschew collective political aspirations in favor of detached personal opinions, spend an inordinate amount of time trying to disseminate those opinions online while ignoring interpersonal social relations, block attempts to forge a united struggle and resist disrupters and infiltrators, ignore the particularities of oppression, and defend the police even when they’re assaulting peaceful demonstrators. Those exposed to these influences oppose building power in the name of a postmodern opposition to hegemony while simultaneously drain struggles of their ability and willingness to withstand repression.

Instead, we need to construct groups, movements, and projects that nourish person-to-person bonds in neighborhoods, apartment buildings, workplaces, and communities without getting lost in how many followers a group’s Twitter account has. We need to be vigilant against the attempts of isolated people to impose their priorities on everyone else in the name of their individuality (after all, the beauty of free association implies the option of free disassociation) and use organizing structures that are durable and designed to withstand interference.

And while recognizing the importance of humility and introspection every step of the way, we mustn’t be afraid to make our case for the reconstruction of society. To see calls for a world devoid of hunger and hatred as mere “opinions” on par with capitalist appeals to augment inequality and incarceration is to fall into the liberal trap of ceding contestations of power to our enemies. Successful struggle requires an anti-authoritarian normativity that rejects the bizarre liberal notion that the perspectives of oppressors are as worthwhile as those of the oppressed.

Mark Bray is the author of Translating Anarchy: The Anarchism of Occupy Wall Street. He is a member of the Black Rose Anarchist Federation and the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), and has been a political organizer involved in various groups and campaigns over the years. You can follow him on Twitter via @Mark__Bray.

This article was originally published on Roar Mag

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#GamonalEffect Reignites Mass Protest Across Spain

Posted 9 months ago on Jan. 16, 2014, noon EST by OccupyWallSt
Tags: M15, direct action, Take the Square, Spain

Who would have thought that a relatively conservative city like Burgos, Spain would have detonated a string of spontaneous and massive protest across the country? Over the past four days, social media networks across the globe have exploded with the hashtag #Gamonal and #EfectoGamonal, viralizing this small town’s struggle against rising property prices and corrupt municipal dealings to international attention, and along the way reawaken national indignation that has been simmering in Spain for years.

The conflict originated around the slatted construction of an expensive multi-story parking garage in the densely populated center of Gamonal, a working class neighborhood of Burgos. The project is to be lead by developer and local media tycoon Antonio Miguel Méndez Pozo, a former felon charged with corruption and with ties to the right-wing Popular Party. Mendez Pozo is seen as an emblematical figure, responsible for the runaway property prices that stem from years of collusion between elected officials and private real estate developers and his control of the regions biggest newspaper. Public demonstrations began on Monday, as local residents perplexed by the scale and invasiveness of the new development, went to the streets demanding a refocusing of priorities to address the city’s chronic unemployment and underfunded public services. Once the internet got a hold of it, the rising up of this working class community became a battle cry to denounce the general corruption of the Spanish government long ago taken over by banks and private interest. Under the banner of the #GamonalEffect Solidarity marches assembled in Madrid, Seville, Valladolid, Logroño, Oviedo, Zaragoza, and Barcelona.

Yesterday, firefighters in Barcelona congregated in Plaça de Catalunya in an impressive show of force carrying signs that read “If Burgos can, We can too”.

Last night in Madrid 13 demonstrators were arrested as thousands took to the streets of the Gran Via.

Demonstrators were quickly bailed out thanks to crowd funding efforts. The #GamonalEffect reminds us of the latent potential of networks created after the #M15 and #TaketheSquare movements in 2011.

Today we all stand united by #Gamonal because their struggle is our struggle: people having a voice in the face of a brutal economic system that puts profits before people.

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Walmart Organizes Against Workers

Posted 9 months ago on Jan. 14, 2014, 11:59 p.m. EST by OccupyWallSt
Tags: Walmart, leak, direct action

Poverty Pay Keeps Prices Low

Following the release of a claim from Anonymous that Walmart would be targeted, we received the following secret internal documents on Walmart’s attempts to thwart workers who are mobilizing for basic rights and a decent wage. These documents go a long way in revealing just how scared Walmart is of its own workers standing together for change.

FACT CHECK: OUR Walmart is not a union nor is it seeking union recognition. OUR Walmart is simply a group of Walmart hourly workers who have come together to address issues in their stores.

FACT CHECK: Walmart falsely claims that OUR Walmart is seeking union recognition and trying to build a union, because under US labor law, this would take away some of the rights of striking workers. OUR Walmart workers have gone on strike to stand up to Walmart’s retaliation against workers when they have come together to speak out about issues like decent pay, respect in the workplace and getting enough hours to survive. These are legally protected unfair labor practice strikes. Walmart wants people to believe that these are strikes for union recognition so that it can freely fire and target workers, rather than be forced to obey the law and respect their right to speak up.

FACT CHECK: OUR Walmart and UFCW are not seeking to represent Walmart workers.

FACT CHECK: Some of the materials claim that Walmart “takes care” of its own associates. Walmart actually costs tax-payers $900,000 a store in subsidies because they care so poorly for their associates. Recently, a store Walmart held a food drive, for its own workers who can’t afford to eat.

FACT CHECK: Of course workers organizing does not guarantee any result, but we’ve already seen the result of doing nothing and you can guarantee that nothing will get better if people don’t stand up to bullying tactics, insufficient hours and low pay.

FACT CHECK: Walmart claims to have open lines of communication through its “open door policy.” This is really a divide-and-conquer tactic, in which the company makes a single worker bring issues to management alone. This means the “open door” is closed to groups who wish to raise issues together and is one way Walmart seeks to deal with people individually, instead of collectively in a stronger group.

FACT CHECK: Walmart claims to be transparent, but doesn’t even supply its workers with a policy manual. They have to access company policies at work on the company network, without time to fully review, rather than having a clear understanding of what is required and allowed.

FACT CHECK: OUR Walmart is a group of Associates who are speaking and representing themselves.

FACT CHECK: What this graph doesn’t tell you is what happened to wages and the middle class when union membership dropped.

via Huffington Post

FACT CHECK: OUR Walmart dues are $5/month and goes to support the organizing work of OUR Walmart. Workers are still welcome to participate if they do not pay dues or are unable to continue paying dues.

FACT CHECK: Making Change at Walmart is the UFCW-led coalition that works in solidarity with OUR Walmart, much like Occupy Wall Street.

FACT CHECK: Walmart workers, in most other countries, have union representation - the United States is an anomaly. When asked why that is the case, then International Chief Executive and soon-to-be Walmart CEO said “We have a local philosophy. It’s our intention to demonstrate that we are a great corporate citizen.”

FACT CHECK: Despite Walmart’s acronym “TIPS” Walmart has recently gotten into trouble for breaking most of the rules outlined in the acronym.

Here is a report documenting the company’s recent systematic worker abuses

The report also documents how Walmart has tried to silence communities along with workers through:

  • Restraining orders against protesters
  • Selective enforcement of company policies in order to provide a pretext for disciplining or terminating activists
  • Selective enforcement of the company’s solicitation policies in order to limit workers’ access to information about the benefits of organizing
  • Illegal threats that workers would face serious consequences if they organized, including economic losses
  • Illegal manipulation of store staffing in order to dilute support for organizing and union representation in the run-up to a union election
  • Illegal information gathering including coercive interrogation, eavesdropping, and remote monitoring of workers via security cameras

The National Labor Relations Board has found merit in workers’ claims of intimidation and illegal action on Walmart’s behalf. After workers went on strike over retaliation in 2013, Walmart responded by firing around 20 workers and disciplining 40 more to scare workers out of standing up for their rights.

FACT CHECK: Note that the union card on page #34 does not say anything about Walmart. OUR Walmart doesn’t sign representation over to UFCW.

FACT CHECK: Unions partner with local groups to help them hold Walmart accountable. This is not meant to harm the company, but to call on Walmart to be a good neighbor and keep its promises to the community. Walmart often makes promises about wages and jobs when it comes to a community, but there is nothing to hold them accountable. This work is all done in solidarity with the workers.

If you are a Walmart worker, there is no time like the present to start organizing your workplace. Go to: http://ChangeWalmart.org

If you are an occupy activist and you would like to help with the effort, go to: http://ChangeWalmart.org and tell them we sent you.

I'm standing up to Walmart

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