Organizing at Walmart: Lessons from Quebec's Women

Stéphanie Mayer, Yanick Noiseux

Abstract


The job market has undergone fundamental changes over the last thirty years. The decline in permanent, stable, full-time employment and an increase in the number of non-standard workers transformed workers' collective organization and union representation. Based on a study of the collective struggles of women employed at Walmart in Quebec and taking into consideration the interrelated effects of non-standard workers' work and living conditions, the paper explores the ways in which organized labour can adapt to the new context. Two types of data were used: newspapers and academic literature and the results of a study in which eleven women working at Walmart were interviewed between 2010 and 2012. This case study is divided into three parts. In the context of the tertiarization of Quebec's employment market, the effects of the flexibilization of labour at Walmart are first presented through statistical evidence and the comments of the women interviewed. The next section provides an overview of the UFCW's union battles with Walmart, including some of the more successful campaign strategies. The final section focuses on participant testimonies to examine what can be learned from these union experiences in the hopes of contributing, insofar as possible, to the discussion on union renewal.


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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.15173/glj.v6i1.2455


Stéphanie Mayer
Laval Université
Canada

Biographical note: Stéphanie Mayer has started in 2012 a PhD in Political Science at Université Laval under the supervision of Diane Lamoureux. Her thesis focuses on the feminist theorizations of heterosexuality. Her fields of interest concern social movements, political subjectivities and feminist theories. She is a member of the Quebec Network of feminist studies (RéQEF).

Yanick Noiseux
Université de Montréal
Canada

Biographical note: Yanick Noiseux is Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology at Université de Montreal. His work focuses on the renewal of trade unionism, the transformation of work and social policy in the context of globalization. Codirector of the interdisciplinary and inter-university research group on employment, poverty and social protection (GIREPS) and member of the Centre for Studies on Integration and Globalization (CEIM), he’s currently conducting research on collective organization on peripheral labor markets in Canada and India.