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San Leandro Walmart Workers Involved In Symbolic Walkout

The Hesperian Boulevard store is one of five Bay Area Walmart locations at the heart of a nationwide campaign to organize the non-union chain.

 

Before today the Walmart on Hesperian Boulevard had one dubious claim to fame: a shooting occurred in its parking lot on Black Friday 2011 and briefly made international headlines.

But today this store and four others in the Bay Area are at the center of an historic effort to organize Walmart, which has been non-union for 50 years.

Organizers say only a handful of workers have struck in San Leandro and the four other Walmart sites in Richmond, Oakland, Fremont and San Jose.

At publication time Walmart had not yet replied to an interview request.

The local walkouts are part of a symbolic nationwide campaign involving 28 stores in a dozen states, all coordinated by the United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW).

Mike Henneberry, spokesperson for UFCW Local 5 in San Jose, offered the union's story.

Henneberry said the walkouts are designed to call attention to the organizing effort. There are no plans to walk picket lines because the union hasn't gotten to that point, he said.

The UFCW is focusing on the Bay Area because that's where Walmart is just starting to open a new category of smaller stores -- Walmart Neighborhood Markets -- that will compete directly with unionized grocers such as Safeway and Lucky, Henneberry said.

Walmart operates about 167 of these smaller stores nationwide but the first Neighborhood Market in Northern California opened last month in San Ramon.

Walmart plans to open a similar store in San Jose in October and another Neighborhood Market in Pleasanton mid-2013. 

The UFCW was particularly irate about Walmart's decision to build such a store in Pleasanton because that city is headquarters to unionized Safeway.

"Walmart's new move into the traditional grocery store sector is a departure in tactics on their part and a direct threat to our members," UFCW Local 5 President Ron Lind said in February when the Pleasanton store was up for consideration.

The Pleasanton city council approved Walmart's plans by a 4-1 vote.

A UFCW spokeswoman said many of the workers involved in today's walkout are meeting in Walmart's headquarters city of Bentonville, Arkansas, to plan their next steps.

(Editor' note, Nov. 23: As an outgrowth of that meeting union supporters held a Thanksgiving night demonstration at the Hesperian store. This Patch story contains a video interview of one store worker who walked off the job to take part in the demonstration.)

Are you a Walmart shopper? Have you ever patronized a Neighborhood Walmart? What do you think of the organizing effort?

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Ken Briggs November 23, 2012 at 04:53 PM
Susanne , the unions have more power than just you . so who ndo YOU GO TO if you want more money orwhat ever ? after all you sweem to know it all . do you know the top person to go to ? so you Susanne know that it is not just the san leandro stores it all over . why is that ? somethingt is wromg .
Susanne November 23, 2012 at 05:17 PM
Naturally it is not just San Leandro... if somebody tries to accomplish something you try to infiltrate in different areas... that is not a surprise... and don't get me wrong there was nothing wrong with the original spirit of Unions... just that has changed and it is more of money making business than a pro-member organization... and... I have never claimed to know everything... but I do have a little bit of life experience, I do observe people on a daily basis, at work or a casual setting and that leads me to conclusions.... and btw... there is a difference between "wanting" more money and "deserving" more money... sense of entitlement, right?
Tom Abate November 23, 2012 at 05:30 PM
This is a story about the demonstration at the Hesperian store; it features a video clip in which one of the store workers explains involvement. http://sanleandro.patch.com/articles/union-supporters-confront-walmart-in-san-leandro#video-12298703
Rob Rich November 23, 2012 at 05:34 PM
Neither the rich nor the poor have a monopoly on a "sense of entitlement."
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