Walmart and Guns, Part II

Walmart and Guns, Part II

In my Tuesday On Tap, I noted that a number of Walmart employees, in the wake of the mass murder at an El Paso mega-store, had begun expressing concern about the company’s policy of selling guns (Walmart is the nation’s leading gun retailer) and allowing open carry in stores in the states that permit it. 

That discontent is now ballooning. 

In Walmart’s Silicon Valley e-commerce office, 40 white-collar employees walked off the job yesterday to urge their employer to stop selling guns. Actions were also held at e-commerce offices in Portland, Oregon, and Brooklyn, and organizers also initiated a Change.org petition calling on Walmart to cease selling firearms. By Wednesday night, 38,000 people had signed it.

Ever eager to stomp on any workers voicing discontent, Walmart suspended the email and Slack accounts of the two Silicon Valley employees who initiated the action, but then thought better of it and reinstated those accounts. Perhaps Bentonville calculated that it had to deal with its tech workers a bit less brutally than it customarily does with its blue- and pink-collar employees. 

The Walmart rising comes on the heels of mass employee walkouts at Google, Amazon, and other tech giants over such issues as the sale of facial recognition technology to China and the failure to clamp down on sexual harassment. Considered alongside the strike wave of teachers and hotel workers that began last year, we’re clearly entering the Era of Worker Walkouts, most of which pose demands about the employees’ own situations but also about the greater social good. Our dysfunctional labor law makes it nearly impossible for non-union workers to gain a legally recognized collective voice, but that doesn’t seem to be deterring actual American workers, who for all manner of good reasons are plain fed up.