Activists to Watch: Daniel Schlademan

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OUR Walmart leaders -- from left to right: Charlene Fletcher, Carlton Smith, William Fletcher, Dan Schlademan, Greg Fletcher and Angie Rodriguez -- at a national planning meeting in Bentonville, Arkansas (Photo Credit: OUR Walmart)

Daniel R. Schlademan is in charge of fighting the world’s largest corporation. As campaign director of Making Change at Wal-Mart – a project of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union – the 43-year-old Schlademan is at the forefront of an innovative global campaign to hold Wal-Mart accountable to its workers and communities.

Schlademan has been meeting with Wal-Mart employees around the country to help them improve pay and working conditions and build support from community and faith-based allies, including successful campaigns to stop Wal-Mart from opening new stores in cities where its presence would bring down wage levels and displace many locally owned businesses.

The growing national movement has been on display during the past year as Wal-Mart workers in hundreds of cities went on a one-day strike to draw public attention to the company’s poverty-level wages, stingy benefits and abusive management practices.

Before working to help raise the voices of Wal-Mart employees, Schlademan, a graduate of Rutgers University, led several of the Service Employees International Union’s most successful campaigns among low-wage workers. In 2000, Schlademan helped thousands of once low-wage property service employees in suburban Chicago win their first union contract after a successful two-week strike in 2000. In 2006, he directed the Justice for Janitors campaign in Houston, one of the most successful large-scale union organizing drives in the South in recent years. Confronting a right-to-work environment and establishing rights for immigrant workers, many of whom are undocumented, Schlademan helped workers win union representation, health care and better jobs for more than 5,000 janitors after a successful four-week strike.

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