Dan Schlademan, founder and director of OUR Walmart, reflects on his organization’s success in taking on the anti-union retail behemoth, Wal-Mart. This case study provides an overview of unions’ failed efforts to organize Wal-Mart employees and describes OUR Walmart’s achievements and challenges. It distinguishes the traditional union model of organizing from OUR Walmart’s online-to-offline model, bringing attention to the potential of using technology as a means of empowering workers’ collective action. This case study highlights some of OUR Walmart’s key worker-led initiatives to show the impact the organization has had on Wal-Mart’s policies. It also describes OUR Walmart’s innovative smartphone app, WorkIt, which serves as a platform through which employees can ask questions about and easily access Wal-Mart’s human resources policies. Given OUR Walmart’s creative approach to organizing Wal-Mart employees, Schlademan considers how technology has changed the way workers organize, and how that might affect OUR Walmart’s structure going forward. He also ponders how best to measure the organization’s success, and how such measures would differ from the metrics used by unions. As he looks back, he also looks to the future and considers OUR Walmart’s best path forward.
After reading and discussing this case study, students should be able to:
- assess OUR Walmart on the dimensions of power, sustainability, and scope
- articulate various metrics for measuring success
- distinguish OUR Walmart’s organizational and legal structure and strategy from those of labor unions, worker centers, and other labor advocacy movements
- consider paths forward to achieve OUR Walmart’s goals
- understand that, although laws may be enacted for a particular purpose, their impact may change over time, producing very different results than those intended
- learn how creative lawyers can use the law as a tool to advance policy objectives that may be very different than those intended by the laws’ drafters
- understand how moments of crisis can create great opportunities for trying new solutions to old problems
Employment Law; Workforce Issues; Civil Rights, Justice, & Equality; Internet & Society
Industry: Retail; Non-Profit
Event Year Begin: 2018
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