The Black Friday protests at a Walmart in Washington state featured more paid union activists than actual employees, according to a new report.
The Freedom Foundation, a Washington free market think tank, found that the majority of protesters in the Evergreen state were "paid union activists" and that few Walmart employees participated in the protests.
"OUR Wal-Mart, a subsidiary of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW), mounted a series of Black Friday protests targeting Wal-Mart locations around the country, including the Wal-Mart in the Factoria Mall south of Bellevue," the report says. "The Bellevue protest drew around 100 people, according to press reports. Bellevue police arrested 15 demonstrators for ‘failure to disperse’—a misdemeanor crime."
The Freedom Foundation revealed that only three of the 15 arrestees were actual employees. The rest were union activists with ties to the UFCW, public employee unions, and other far left organizations.
Ryan Williams, spokesman for labor watchdog Worker Center Watch, told the Washington Free Beacon that organizers generally arrange arrests ahead of time in order to gin up more media attention.
"They don’t have the support of real workers, so they rely on the support of paid actors and stand-ins with union affiliations," he said. "They’re protests held by professional protesters, oftentimes paid and given media training, to cause a scene for publicity."
Even attendees admitted that activists outnumbered employees at the protests. Shana Stonehouse, a self-proclaimed ex-Walmart employee, told interviewers that she was one of only three protesters with actual ties to Walmart.
"There was thousands of people and none of them besides myself and two other people actually worked for Walmart," she told KIRO radio. "They were just people supporting us standing up against Walmart,"
This is not the first time Washington unions have relied on paid activists to create the impression of popular support at a protest. Working Washington, a SEIU-funded workers’ center, staged several protests at fast food establishments over the summer and this week that featured professional agitators rather than restaurant employees.