Apr. 28, 2005 – After 20 years of trying unsuccessfully to organize Wal-Mart workers in North America, union leaders are taking a new approach, designed to put pressure on the giant retailer from the grassroots on up.
The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) has taken the lead in launching the "Wake Up Wal-Mart" campaign with the help of Paul Blank, who was national political director for the 2004 Howard Dean presidential campaign, seen as a new model for technology-based political organizing.
Blank told the Houston Chronicle that UFCW is branching out from traditional in-store organizing to more broad-based efforts to gain support from other Americans who want changes at Wal-Mart.
In its first few weeks, the campaign has signed up more than 40,000 supporters through its Web site. Those include community activists concerned about the storeâ€™s impact on local businesses; environmentalists, who say the retail giant leaves an extraordinarily large "ecological footprint"; and store employees who want the company to increase wages and provide benefits.