Phil Ochs/The Ballad of Joe Hill

Taking out obituaries for U.S. labor unions has been a favorite pastime of this nation's industrialists and free-market capitalists for generations. In Wal-Mart's case, however, Joe Hill is cropping up in more of its locations than it cares to mention.

Workers and union-supported employee group OUR Wal-Mart have been pushing back hard against the chain's low wages, long hours and short-staffing. In-store protests, Black Friday strikes and a slew of bad publicity have Wal-Mart cranking out press releases faster than its vendors produce cheap plastic resin chairs, but the opposition continues to get the message out.

Unfortunately, it all comes at a terrible time for Wal-Mart. The chain just reported its fourth-consecutive quarter of declining same-store sales and watched its market share fall to its lowest level in six years. Phil Ochs has been gone for nearly 38 years, but his interpretation of this organized labor mainstay has more relevance in U.S. retail than ever before -- especially considering that Wal-Mart rival Costco is beating it with help from a workforce of Teamsters.

Under those circumstances, it's little wonder Wal-Mart wants to turn a deaf ear to U.S. worker songs and crank up the Rush.

-- Written by Jason Notte in Portland, Ore.

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Jason Notte is a reporter for TheStreet. His writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Huffington Post,, Time Out New York, the Boston Herald, the Boston Phoenix, the Metro newspaper and the Colorado Springs Independent. He previously served as the political and global affairs editor for Metro U.S., layout editor for Boston Now, assistant news editor for the Herald News of West Paterson, N.J., editor of Go Out! Magazine in Hoboken, N.J., and copy editor and lifestyle editor at the Jersey Journal in Jersey City, N.J.

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