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Walmart vs. Union-Backed OUR Walmart

Can a group of loyal—and loud—employees force the world’s biggest retailer to change how it treats its workers?
Walmart vs. Union-Backed OUR Walmart
Photographs by: (L) Stephen Wilkes/Gallery Stock; (R) Jonathan Alcorn/Reuters

Cindy Murray has been working at Walmart store No. 1985 in Laurel, Md., for 13 years. She’s stationed in the fitting rooms and earns $12.40 an hour. Murray, who’s in her fifties, says she loves her job. She thinks of herself as a model employee. She also helped start OUR Walmart, or Organization United for Respect at Walmart, the group of employees who defied one of the most powerful companies in America by holding protests at about 1,000 stores on the busiest day of the year for retailers. OUR Walmart says it has at least 4,000 members. The protests, on the Friday after Thanksgiving, involved about 500 of them, as well as many thousands of others sympathetic to their cause. Murray and her colleagues are asking Wal-Mart Stores for more full-time jobs with predictable schedules instead of part-time work with hours that can change every three weeks—and wages that can provide their families a decent life. They also want respect.

OUR Walmart member Cindy Murray in Maryland
Photograph by Christopher Leaman for Bloomberg Businessweek