6 creepy things Walmart does to stay union-free.

Have you ever felt like you're being watched? It's creepy.

Image by PublicDomainPictures/Pixabay.


Now imagine it's happening at work, and it's your boss who's watching. So is their boss. And their boss' boss. And the company lawyers. And probably the board of directors.

They're all tuned in to you.

It's not because of your job performance. I mean, let's be real: You obviously deserve a raise. Or a trophy, at the least.

Strangely, they're watching you because of your valuesspecifically those having to do with what you believe makes a "fair" workplace.

If you work at Walmart, it may not be in your imagination.

In 2012, as Walmart, the nation's largest private employer, prepared for the holiday shopping bonanza, activists across the country, including some of the company's front-line employees, geared up for protests.

Their goal was (and still is) to pressure the company for non-poverty wages and benefits — you know, the typical signs of work with dignity.

Walmart: Always low. Photos by Matt Hamilton/Neon Tommy/Flickr.

They also want Walmart management to stop intimidating employees who speak up on workplace issues. The company, in case you weren't aware, is a notorious union-buster.

Walmart's alleged "retaliatory" acts against employees who protested has become the subject of a labor law inquiry.

The initial details, assembled for a National Labor Relations Board hearing, have been revealed in a more than 4,000-word exposé by Bloomberg Business.

No decision has been reached yet, but a lot of information has been uncovered on how Walmart handles situations in which workers attempt to exercise their right to organize for a reasonable voice in their work lives.

Here are six discoveries:

1. They have a hotline for managers to report union activity.


Image by PublicDomainPictures/Pixabay.

In an interview with CBS Evening News, Walmart spokesman David Tovar called the protests "another union publicity stunt," implying the company didn't see the protesters as a threat.

Despite that, Walmart beefed up staffing for a dedicated labor hotline for store managers to report activity so executives could pre-empt organizing efforts among unsatisfied workers.

2. They created a "playbook" for stopping union drives.


This is not from Walmart's union-busting playbook. But it makes just as much sense. Image by opensource.com/Flickr (altered).

The document, creatively titled "A Manager's Toolbox To Remaining Union Free," psychs up managers with lines like, "As a member of Wal-Mart's management team, you are our first line of defense against unionization."

To be clear, it's not because the company has a problem with unions: "We are not anti-union; we are pro-associate."

(Unless, of course, their associates want a union.)

3. They form special teams to deal with disgruntled workers.

Image by RadioKirk/Wikimedia Commons (altered).

At the faintest whiff of workers uniting in common purpose, Walmart mobilizes special "Delta teams" to stop union activity in its tracks.

Members of the labor rights group OUR Walmart have reported executives from the company's Bentonville, Arkansas-based headquarters showing up at stores on a moment's notice, armed with talking points and legalese to derail organizing efforts.

4. They hired a defense contractor to spy on activist workers.

Photo by David McNew/Getty Images.

Walmart hired defense contractor Lockheed Martin to gather intelligence on activist workers. Specifically, they use the contractor's data analysis tool LM Wisdom.

According to Lockheed Martin's website, the tool "monitors and analyzes rapidly changing open source intelligence data … [that] has the power to incite organized movements, riots and sway political outcomes."


Emails produced in discovery for the NLRB hearing include social media monitoring updates from Lockheed Martin. Favianna Rodriguez, an artist and activist (not a Walmart employee) whose tweets were among the LM updates, told Bloomberg, "We're artists, not ISIS."

5. They paint protesters as terrorist threats to gain access to federal resources.

Photo by David McNew/Getty Images.

In 2013, protests were planned at the company's headquarters to coincide with a high-profile shareholder meeting. 14,000 people were expected to attend the meeting, including shareholders, investors, the Walton family, and even Elton John.

When company executives heard members of the Occupy movement were expected to join the protests, they enlisted the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force. No details have been released on the nature of the collaboration.

But in a show of how cozy Walmart may be with the feds, they a hired former FBI officer as their head of global security.

6. They will hurt many for the rightful actions of a few.

Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images.

In 1999, a small group of butchers at a Walmart location in Jacksonville, Texas, voted to unionize — it was their legal right, and they democratically decided it would serve their best interests.

Walmart's response didn't just hurt the newly organized meat cutters. They shut down every meat counter in every U.S. store and switched to only pre-packaged cuts.

Of course, the company wouldn't admit that it was about the union. Walmart spokeswoman Jessica Moser told the Associated Press, "Our decision to expand case-ready meat has nothing to do with what went on in Jacksonville."

This isn't just a problem for Walmart workers.

Again, we're talking about the largest private employer in the United States. Low-wage retail workers are the most common workers in the nation, and Walmart sets the tempo for how they're treated.

Not terrorists. Photo by David McNew/Getty Images.

The nation is at a crossroads, and our choice is between corporate domination or economic freedom for millions of people. It's a David and Goliath story if there ever were one. Who are you rooting for?

If you stand with Walmart workers, sign OUR Walmart's petition calling for consistent full-time scheduling and a $15 minimum wage.

Courtesy of Amita Swadhin
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In 2016, Amita Swadhin, a child of two immigrant parents from India, founded Mirror Memoirs to help combat rape culture. The national storytelling and organizing project is dedicated to sharing the stories of LGBTQIA+ Black, indigenous people, and people of color who survived child sexual abuse.

"Whether or not you are a survivor, 100% of us are raised in rape culture. It's the water that we're swimming in. But just as fish don't know they are in water, because it's just the world around them that they've always been in, people (and especially those who aren't survivors) may need some help actually seeing it," they add.

"Mirror Memoirs attempts to be the dye that helps everyone understand the reality of rape culture."

Amita built the idea for Mirror Memoirs from a theater project called "Undesirable Elements: Secret Survivors" that featured their story and those of four other survivors in New York City, as well as a documentary film and educational toolkit based on the project.

"Secret Survivors had a cast that was gender, race, and age-diverse in many ways, but we had neglected to include transgender women," Amita explains. "Our goal was to help all people who want to co-create a world without child sexual abuse understand that the systems historically meant to help survivors find 'healing' and 'justice' — namely the child welfare system, policing, and prisons — are actually systems that facilitate the rape of children in oppressed communities," Amita continues. "We all have to explore tools of healing and accountability outside of these systems if we truly want to end all forms of sexual violence and rape culture."

Amita also wants Mirror Memoirs to be a place of healing for survivors that have historically been ignored or underserved by anti-violence organizations due to transphobia, homophobia, racism, xenophobia, and white supremacy.

Amita Swadhin

"Hearing survivors' stories is absolutely healing for other survivors, since child sexual abuse is a global pandemic that few people know how to talk about, let alone treat and prevent."

"Since sexual violence is an isolating event, girded by shame and stigma, understanding that you're not alone and connecting with other survivors is alchemy, transmuting isolation into intimacy and connection."

This is something that Amita knows and understands well as a survivor herself.

"My childhood included a lot of violence from my father, including rape and other forms of domestic violence," says Amita. "Mandated reporting was imposed on me when I was 13 and it was largely unhelpful since the prosecutors threatened to incarcerate my mother for 'being complicit' in the violence I experienced, even though she was also abused by my father for years."

What helped them during this time was having the support of others.

"I'm grateful to have had a loving younger sister and a few really close friends, some of whom were also surviving child sexual abuse, though we didn't know how to talk about it at the time," Amita says.

"I'm also a queer, non-binary femme person living with complex post-traumatic stress disorder, and those identities have shaped a lot of my life experiences," they continue. "I'm really lucky to have an incredible partner and network of friends and family who love me."

"These realizations put me on the path of my life's work to end this violence quite early in life," they said.

Amita wants Mirror Memoirs to help build awareness of just how pervasive rape culture is. "One in four girls and one in six boys will be raped or sexually assaulted by the age of 18," Amita explains, "and the rates are even higher for vulnerable populations, such as gender non-conforming, disabled, deaf, unhoused, and institutionalized children." By sharing their stories, they're hoping to create change.

"Listening to stories is also a powerful way to build empathy, due to the mirror neurons in people's brains. This is, in part, why the project is called Mirror Memoirs."

So far, Mirror Memoirs has created an audio archive of BIPOC LGBTQI+ child sexual abuse survivors sharing their stories of survival and resilience that includes stories from 60 survivors across 50 states. This year, they plan to record another 15 stories, specifically of transgender and nonbinary people who survived child sexual abuse in a sport-related setting, with their partner organization, Athlete Ally.

"This endeavor is in response to the more than 100 bills that have been proposed across at least 36 states in 2021 seeking to limit the rights of transgender and non-binary children to play sports and to receive gender-affirming medical care with the support of their parents and doctors," Amita says.

In 2017, Mirror Memoirs held its first gathering, which was attended by 31 people. Today, the organization is a fiscally sponsored, national nonprofit with two staff members, a board of 10 people, a leadership council of seven people, and 500 members nationally.

When the pandemic hit in 2020, they created a mutual aid fund for the LGBTQIA+ community of color and were able to raise a quarter-million dollars. They received 2,509 applications for assistance, and in the end, they decided to split the money evenly between each applicant.

While they're still using storytelling as the building block of their work, they're also engaging in policy and advocacy work, leadership development, and hosting monthly member meetings online.

For their work, Amita is one of Tory's Burch's Empowered Women. Their donation will go to Mirror Memoirs to help fund production costs for their new theater project, "Transmutation: A Ceremony," featuring four Black transgender, intersex, and non-binary women and femmes who live in California.

"I'm grateful to every single child sexual survivor who has ever disclosed their truth to me," Amita says. "I know another world is possible, and I know survivors will build it, together with all the people who love us."

To learn more about Tory Burch and Upworthy's Empowered Women program visit https://www.toryburch.com/empoweredwomen/. Nominate an inspiring woman in your community today!

Image is a representation of the grandfather, not the anonymous subject of the story.

Eight years a go, a grandfather in Michigan wrote a powerful letter to his daughter after she kicked out her son out of the house for being gay. It's so perfectly written that it crops up on social media every so often.

The letter is beautiful because it's written by a man who may not be with the times, but his heart is in the right place.

It first appeared on the Facebook page FCKH8 and a representative told Gawker that the letter was given to them by Chad, the 16-year-old boy referenced in the letter.

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When a pet is admitted to a shelter it can be a traumatizing experience. Many are afraid of their new surroundings and are far from comfortable showing off their unique personalities. The problem is that's when many of them have their photos taken to appear in online searches.

Chewy, the pet retailer who has dedicated themselves to supporting shelters and rescues throughout the country, recognized the important work of a couple in Tampa, FL who have been taking professional photos of shelter pets to help get them adopted.

"If it's a photo of a scared animal, most people, subconsciously or even consciously, are going to skip over it," pet photographer Adam Goldberg says. "They can't visualize that dog in their home."

Adam realized the importance of quality shelter photos while working as a social media specialist for the Humane Society of Broward County in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

"The photos were taken top-down so you couldn't see the size of the pet, and the flash would create these red eyes," he recalls. "Sometimes [volunteers] would shoot the photos through the chain-link fences."

That's why Adam and his wife, Mary, have spent much of their free time over the past five years photographing over 1,200 shelter animals to show off their unique personalities to potential adoptive families. The Goldbergs' wonderful work was recently profiled by Chewy in the video above entitled, "A Day in the Life of a Shelter Pet Photographer."