‘Flash Mob’ Group Calls for Fair Wages at Wal-Mart

 A ‘FLASH MOB’ OF DEMONSTRATORS enters a Wal-Mart store in the Twin Cities suburbs to dramatize the anti-worker retail monster’s always-low pay and always-bad benefits.  Shoppers cheered, and management gave the demonstrators a bum’s rush.  Photo by Joey Getty for Workday Minnesota via PAI Photo Service.

A ‘FLASH MOB’ OF DEMONSTRATORS enters a Wal-Mart store in the Twin Cities suburbs to dramatize the anti-worker retail monster’s always-low pay and always-bad benefits. Shoppers cheered, and management gave the demonstrators a bum’s rush. Photo by Joey Getty for Workday Minnesota via PAI Photo Service.

BROOKLYN CENTER, Minn. —Wal-Mart shoppers in the Twin Cities suburb of Brooklyn Center were surprised on Dec. 14 when about a dozen Our Walmart organizers and supporters descended on the checkout lanes in a flash mob to bring attention to low wages and poor working conditions.  The response?  Widespread glee and support from customers – and a bum’s rush from Wal-Mart store managers.

The flash mob performance was yet another demonstration of workers’ and their supporters’ ire at Wal-Mart’s low wages, lousy benefits and rampant labor law-breaking.  The anti-Wal-Mart movement has been spreading nationwide for two years – and prompting protests from other low-wage workers around the U.S.

In Brooklyn Center, at 11 a.m., coming directly from a final practice of a choreo-graphed dance, Our Walmart organizers and community supporters pretended to shop in the women’s clothing section near the front checkout lanes.  After about 20 minutes of getting group members situated and in their correct places, they began the flash mob.

The performance was met with smiles and some supporting shouts from shoppers.  Managers at the store, however, were not as pleased.  As the performance ended, management and other employees circled the group of dancers and quickly ushered them toward the exit.

This was not the first flash mob that Our Walmart orchestrated.  On Sept. 5, the organization demonstrated their musical and dance skills at the Midway Wal-Mart in St. Paul with a live band.  Though Saturday’s dancers did not have live instruments, it performed a creative rendition of Lorde’s hit song, “Royals.”

“And the Waltons aren’t royals, royals. They can’t treat us like mud.  That kind of dough they take from us, we’ve had just about enough,” went the Our Walmart version of the song. The creative twist of the lyrics ended with, “Fair pay is no fantasy.”

Our Wal-Mart organizer Isaac Martin said both flash mobs served as a way for community members to support Wal-Mart workers in their effort to raise wages and improve working conditions.  “A big part of Our Walmart is the community support – people who actually want to get involved,” said Martin.

Supporters who participated in the flash mob included AFL-CIO members and college students.  Supporter Leanne Kunze stated, “I’m here today to stand in solidarity with my brothers and sisters at Wal-Mart and everywhere else where people are not getting a living wage.”  A few students from Macalester College in St. Paul joined the flash mob because they participate in United Students Against Sweatshops, a national student pro-labor organization.

By Joey Getty, Workday Minnesota, PAI