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For the second year in a row, Walmart was not the subject of union-organized post-Thanksgiving “Black Friday” protests. The union primarily involved in mounting them in years past, United Food and Commercial Workers, has pulled back up after years of failing to organize a Walmart store.

“As we announced last year, we’re shifting away from actions that occur specifically on Black Friday. Nothing else will be announced at this time, but we are planning a holiday campaign that will kick off in December,” said Meredith Ritchie, spokeswoman for the UFCW-backed Making Change at Walmart.

It is a stark contrast from recent years when the organization claimed that it would hold protests at hundreds of Walmarts across the country and that this was part of a rising movement of workers. In 2014, for example, it announced it would hold events at 1,600 locations.

However that year, as in previous ones, the protests held on the actual day were far fewer in number, no more than a few dozen. Reporters covering the events often struggled to find a single Walmart worker who was participating. Most of the participants were non-Walmart union members and other activists bused in by UFCW.

In 2015, those events came to an end after Anthony Perrone became the new president of UFCW. According to reports in liberal media outlets such as In These Times, he regarded the anti-Walmart events as a waste of funds and cut back on them. Without the union’s active involvement, the events stopped altogether, indicating there was little grassroots support.

Walmart spokesman Kory Lundberg declined to comment. “I wouldn’t have anything specific to say about what these groups are or aren’t doing for Black Friday,” he said.

UFCW has long sought to organize the Arkansas-based retail chain, the nation’s largest employer with more than 1.2 million employees. The union created and ran several nonprofit groups with names such as Wake-Up Walmart, OUR Walmart and Making Change At Walmart as part of a campaign to force the retailer to agree to a union. The various groups, which presented themselves as representing groups of disgruntled Walmart workers, mounted aggressive public relations campaigns against the retailer, arguing it treated its employees poorly.

For years, the signature event of these groups was to hold protests at Walmarts on the day after Thanksgiving, the unofficial beginning of the Christmas shopping season. The intention was to embarrass the company with stories of workers walking out and protesting on one of the busiest shopping days of the year and a day when there is usually little other news.

The effort was successful on several fronts. Many media outlets covered them, perpetuating the union’s claims of a rising worker movement within Walmart and publicizing stories by some workers of poor treatment by the company.

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It also resulted in the National Labor Relations Board, the federal government’s main labor law enforcement agency, pursuing unfair practice charges against the employers after some workers who participated in events in 2013 claimed the company retaliated against them.

In January, an administrative law judge ruled the retailer had violated the law and must offer to reinstate 16 dismissed employees. The company, which has denied any wrong-doing, has appealed the decision.

What UFCW’s effort has not done is result in any stores being organized. Partly this was because of the strategy the union used. Under the National Labor Relations Act, a union cannot protest an employer for more than 30 days at a time before it must cease and attempt to organize the workers.

Walmart sued the union on that basis in 2012. In an unusual decision the following year, the NLRB allowed the union’s nonprofit arms to continue to protest but with the proviso that they could do so only as an independent worker rights groups and had to forswear any effort to organize the workers.

Initially, this appeared to be a good thing for the union because it allowed it to continue its anti-Walmart campaign indefinitely. Its press releases even came with disclaimer that, notwithstanding the fact that they were arms of a union, they weren’t trying unionize workers.

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However, not being allowed to organize workers meant the union’s campaign could work ony if it forced management to agree to negotiations. Despite some rough PR moments, Walmart never did.

Meanwhile, the efforts’ failure to motivate significant groups of Walmart workers despite the abundant publicity began to backfire as press coverage grew more skeptical.

A 2013 post-Thanksgiving press conference call by OUR Walmart turned awkward when the group was repeatedly unable to say how many Walmart employees had joined in the group’s events. Walmart itself put the figure at just 20.

“I don’t have an actual count,” said OUR Walmart member Martha Sellers, a cashier at a Paramount, California, store, said in response to a reporter’s question.

Associates at a D.C. Walmart that was protested in 2014 told the Washington Examiner they didn’t know anyone who participated and criticized the protesters for claiming to speak on their behalf. “They say we are just getting $9.50 an hour [DC’s then-minimum wage], but that’s not so,” said one employee who requested not to be named.

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