Union Busting in the Wal-Mart Age

This is what we are up against: Wal-Mart Stores Inc. said Wednesday it will close a Canadian store whose workers are on the verge of becoming the first ever to win a union contract from the world's biggest retailer.

Wal-Mart said it was shuttering the store in Jonquiere, Quebec, in response to unreasonable demands from union negotiators, which would make it impossible for the store to sustain its business. The United Food & Commercial Workers Canada last week asked Quebec labor officials to appoint a mediator, saying that negotiations had reached an impasse. (...)

The store in Jonquiere, about 240 miles northeast of Montreal, became the first unionized Wal-Mart store in North America last September after the bargaining unit was certified by provincial labor officials. Since then, workers at a second Quebec store have also been granted union status. Neither had reached a contract.

The union efforts at both stores are part of a larger chess game labor organizers are waging with Wal-Mart at stores across Canada. The campaign, financed by UFCW money from both Canada and the United States, is also geared to captured the attention of workers in Wal-Mart's home country.

The closest a U.S. union has ever come to winning a battle with Wal-Mart was in 2000, at a store in Jacksonville, Texas. In that store, 11 workers -- all members of the store's meatpacking department -- voted to join and be represented by the UFCW.

That effort failed when Wal-Mart eliminated the job of meatcutter companywide, and moved away from in-store meatcutting to stocking only prewrapped meat.

That Wal-Mart was willing to close a store rather than see it unionize does not surprise me. I am actually a little more shocked that they would eliminate the job of meat cutter worldwide to prevent eleven people from unionizing. Either way, it shows just how serious they are about busting unions.

It will be interesting to see what happens at the other store in Canada now. Also, if for some reason you were still hopping at Wal-Mart, hopefully this story will keep you from doing so in the future. For more inofrmation and resources on Wal-Mart, check out purple ocean both here and here.

Tags: Labor (all tags)

Comments

52 Comments

Wal-Mart isn't all that different from...
any of the other wage slave jobs I've slugged through in big box stores. I've worked at Target and Best Buy and seen my rights as a worker trampled at both (mostly Best Buy).

Still, I don't shop at Wal-Mart because they are head and shoulders worse than any other big box store when it comes to employee relations and respect for worker's rights. This doesn't change a thing for me.

by Green Irishboy 2005-02-10 06:19AM | 0 recs
Re: Wal-Mart isn't all that different from...
I don't shop at wallmart either when I can avoid it.

Occasionaly they are the only one open though...

by donkeykong 2005-02-10 12:37PM | 0 recs
evil
I've been boycotting Wal-Mart for years now, but this is by far the lowest I think I've heard them sink morally.
by ypsilanti 2005-02-10 06:20AM | 0 recs
A great place to work.
Dude, yer way off! Wal-Mart is one of the kindest companies in the world. Between the 5 minute break and the 10% discount I receive on Depends so I do not ever have to use the restroom and the countless hours I am allowed to work for free I am constantly overwhelmed by their generosity. Heck, this Christmas they even let it snow. Actually, Wal-Mart is a bit like outsourcing right here in our country. I expect them to start paying kids a dollar a day to sew Adidas shoes and soccer balls.
by OxBuzzard 2005-02-10 06:36AM | 0 recs
Speaks Volumes
"...unreasonable demands from union negotiators, which would make it impossible for the store to sustain its business."

Translation: if we paid you enough to feed your family, we wouldn't make money.

This is a sustainable business model?

by jkdism 2005-02-10 07:06AM | 0 recs
Re: Speaks Volumes
Translation: if we paid you enough to feed your family, we would only make many millions instead of an ungodly amount of millions.
by yitbos96bb 2005-02-10 06:37PM | 0 recs
Wal-Mart receives massive welfare
in the form of the public assistance its employees require, because Wal-Mart refuses to pay them enough to eat.

It's strange, but I remember hearing about Wal-Mart letting its Chinese employees join the state-run union (http://yaleglobal.yale.edu/display.article?id=4920).  It's not a moral principle for them or anything :)  just expedient.

by berns19 2005-02-10 07:20AM | 0 recs
So to kill Wal-Mart . . .
. . . we just need to unionize every store.

Nothing to it.

by catastrophile 2005-02-10 07:33AM | 0 recs
Re: So to kill Wal-Mart . . .
Thanks. That was my thought, too.

That's a goal we could reach, right? One store at a time, just get them organized, and the executives would pull the stores stakes up.

How many times would we have to do that until the executives salaries and bonuses became "unsustainable"?

by geeksagainstbush 2005-02-10 08:15AM | 0 recs
Re: So to kill Wal-Mart . . .
No no no.

Actual people work there.  A union doesn't exist to kill off the company, it's to help the people that work for the company.

by Eric in Texas 2005-02-10 10:23AM | 0 recs
To paraphrase Colin Powell,
a fundamental shift in the way Wal-Mart treats its employees would qualify as regime change.

Personally, I don't oppose the continued existence of a store chain called Wal-Mart. But many of the business practices it currently employs sure need to die.

by catastrophile 2005-02-10 11:21AM | 0 recs
Re: To paraphrase Colin Powell,
Agreed.
by Eric in Texas 2005-02-10 11:24AM | 0 recs
The value of organizing
If the choice is between empowering a predatory business that eats your family and community, or opposing that business but being (temporarily) out of work, I think that there's still people of courage left in this country who would choose the latter.

Although I didn't include that in my original post, I am a shop steward (Local 88!) and I'm aware of what unions exist to do...

I'll grant you that a straight reading of my post would suggest that I was advocating putting people out of work. But my main point would be that the Wal-Mart executives would, faced with a long drawn-out battle against determined employees, finally realize that it's in their best, long-run interests to treat their employees well.

PS: Unions don't exist to help people. People formed unions to help themselves. Freedom isn't free, you know! :)

by geeksagainstbush 2005-02-10 11:38AM | 0 recs
Re: The value of organizing
Excellent!  I was worried about you, and I'm glad to see that not only are you on the right side of this issue, but also on the right team.
by Eric in Texas 2005-02-10 11:53AM | 0 recs
Re: The value of organizing
I've got to be more careful about my use of irony, I guess....
by geeksagainstbush 2005-02-10 12:55PM | 0 recs
Walmart Boycott
I've been boycotting Walmart since the election when it was disclosed that they were among the largest givers to the Republican Party. Yes, other retailers also gave disproportionately to Republicans but Walmart was at the top of the heap. Gotta draw the line somewhere.
by Curt Matlock 2005-02-10 07:35AM | 0 recs
Well, I'm amazed!
I thought this was very surprising. Eliminating the meat cutters position could be justified as a cost saving business strategy. This decision is pure anti-union antipathy in the extreme.

Maybe I'm reading too much into this story. Did Walmart make a conscious decision to abandon the entire retail market of Canada? Is Walmart playing a game of global chicken with Canadians? What are the prospects that Walmart will be able to open any other stores in Canada?

Wouldn't it be great to have the kind of labor laws in America that would force Walmart to make a choice between genuine negotiation with unions or closing down stores?

by Gary Boatwright 2005-02-10 08:00AM | 0 recs
Walmart Free Zone
On the plus side, we now know how to get rid of Wal-Marts in our communities.

Unionize.

Wal-Mart laid waste to the mom and pop downtown retail center in the town where I grew up, so it can go right to the lowest pit of hell.

Union up folks, shop local.

by Bald Peanut 2005-02-10 08:22AM | 0 recs
Re: Walmart Free Zone
Go ahead and shop somewhere else, but if you want to unionize Wal-Mart, don't do it because you hate the company.  Do it because you actually care about the people that work there.  You don't unionize to kill a company.
by Eric in Texas 2005-02-10 10:25AM | 0 recs
Re: Walmart Free Zone
That's my problem too.  I do hate the company.

Long before I knew how poorly they treated their workers.  I hated them, because they destroyed the landscapes of downtown America with their parking lots.  Made it impossible for small businesses.

by Abby 2005-02-10 03:06PM | 0 recs
Are We Really Better Than Walmart?
You should all shop at Wal-mart.  When you go there this is what you should do.  Figure out how much you would pay if some  smaller inefficient retailer that has gone out of business because Wal-mart moved in.  Once you have completed your transaction take the extra money that you would have paid to that less efficient retailer and give it to your cashier.  After all, isn't that what you want Wal-mart to do?  Raise it's prices so that it can pay it's workers more?  That would essentially be forcing its customers to be charitable to it's employees,  but it leaves that option up to you, which you are free to do, and in fact the more money Wal-mart saves you, the more resources you have to do it.
Those complaining most about wages think that they are somehow arbitrarily picked at random, but nothing could be farther from the truth.  Wages are determined by the contribution one gives to others relative to the availability of similar resources.  Doctors make a lot of money because they provide a service that everybody wants but that few are willing to risk the time and resources to gain, so the market rewards them for it. If you think markets players are unfair and unjust that is fine, but by that definition we are all criminals, from the big Wal-mart to me and you if we don't live in a shack, walk everywhere and go without heat in order to use our extra money to feed people starving in third world countries.  I'm sorry to take up so much room, but I hope that's okay since I'm the only one willing to give a counter viewpoint to this issue.
by Freedom Fighter 2005-02-10 09:29AM | 0 recs
Re: Are We Really Better Than Walmart?
That would be quaint if the only grievance against Wal-Mart was the shitty pay. The fact that they get TIFs, political deals on zoning, fire workers who use their employee discount for charitable purposes, desecrate Mexican cultural landmarks and are the retail equivalent of a schoolyard bully are but some of the reasons that make ME better than Wal-Mart. Am I forgetting anything?
by OxBuzzard 2005-02-10 09:39AM | 0 recs
Re: Are We Really Better Than Walmart?
We agree on the tax incentives and other political maneuvering, a truly fair system should not use political power to steal resources from the highest value users, and unfortunately Wal-mart has used these tactics, as many businesses do.  I don't know about the employee discount or cultural landmarks so I won't pretend to. As far as being the schoolyard bully, I don't know what that is refering to, but if you are talking about putting others out of business that is simply shoppers leaving one business to support another in order to improve their life, is that Wal-mart's fault?  
by Freedom Fighter 2005-02-10 09:50AM | 0 recs
Re: Are We Really Better Than Walmart?
No, it's not Wal-Mart's fault.  Wal-mart is trying to maximize it's profits, which it does remarkably well.  

But by unionizing the company, we would improve the lives of the people that work there.  Wal-mart's business model is to pass off costs and risks to its suppliers.  It has a very healthy margin, otherwise it wouldn't be so profitable.

Wal-Mart can afford unions, it would just eat into the bottom line.  Of course they don't want that.  But there's no reason that we shouldn't try to help the people that want a better life.  

by Eric in Texas 2005-02-10 10:31AM | 0 recs
Re: Are We Really Better Than Walmart?
True.  But who is Wal-mart?  They aren't just the Waltons they are all sorts of Americans who own stock in them, including employees and those that are simply trying to save for retirement.  The managers of Wal-mart work for those owners, not for the employees, their first responsibility is to them.  But like I said, you, me and everyone else doesn't have to force Unions, we are free to improve the lifestyle of Wal-mart employees by giving money directly to them or through channeling it through charities, and are ability to do that is improved as we can buy goods at lower prices.
by Freedom Fighter 2005-02-10 10:53AM | 0 recs
Re: Are We Really Better Than Walmart?
Right - we agree that the managers work for the stockholders, and therefore are against unions because it might hurt their bottom line.

But we, the labor movement (I should have been clear that I did not mean we, consumers), can help the workers BEST by insuring that they have a living wage and benefits to protect their families.

I don't think we should force unions.  But I do think that we should try very hard to convince most of the people who work for Wal-Mart that a union card is in their best interests.

by Eric in Texas 2005-02-10 10:58AM | 0 recs
Re: Are We Really Better Than Walmart?
Then you admit their employees are charity cases? Nothing insulting about handing a cashier an extra fin? I used to like them, too. I liked shopping at 11pm on Sunday night because it was the only time I had to myself, but I can not support their policies anymore. Way too many negatives.
by OxBuzzard 2005-02-10 11:25AM | 0 recs
Defend them if you want.
It is HOW they put people out of business in addition to the fact that Wal-Mart uses its  size to force suppliers to sell to them at below cost. If you are the biggest, and you force your will via your size and strength, then you are a bully. Look up the Mexico stories. They target other retailers for elimination by artificially, and temporarily driving down prices. Is throwing the folks at Toys R Us or K-Mart out of work a good thing? I guess if you own Wal-Mart stock then it is great. Also, it is a bit condescending to assume that a few clams saved at Wal-Mart really improves someone's life. Look up the Mexico facts, look up how they fired an employee for buying "Toys for Tots" with her employee discount. Do a Nexis for "Wal-Mart" and "Bully" and see if they are still worth defending.
by OxBuzzard 2005-02-10 10:36AM | 0 recs
Re: Defend them if you want.
Exactly.  Back when this country actually passed and enforced laws regulating corporations, this kind of tactic was an illegal antitrust maneuver.  Teddy Roosevelt's considered one of our great presidents in part because he stopped companies from doing this - getting a huge share of the market then artificially forcing prices down and taking a loss just for the sake of driving competitors under.  That's exactly what Microsoft went to court several times over for doing.

Don't hate Wal*Mart (or Microsoft) because they're big.  Hate them because they abuse their size unfairly to hurt the competition and their employees.

by schroeder 2005-02-10 10:48AM | 0 recs
Re: Defend them if you want.
Antitrust legislation is designed to protect us from companies that are 'untouchable' to competition and therefore can set prices.  If Wal-mart was truly a monopoly why in the world would they set low prices?  You might also be suggesting their size allows them to pick wages for employees, but their employee size is such a miniscule part  of the total employee population, so they have to much competition from the tons of other retailers and low skill jobs offered by other firms hiring to be considered a monopoly in that regard either.  Again, their size gives doesn't put other stores out of business, their customers put other stores out of business.  And, just quick, on predatory pricing, most economists agree that the cost of imposing predatory pricing are so incredibly detrimental to a firm that the likelihood of a firm actually successfully using that tactic are near impossible.
by Freedom Fighter 2005-02-10 11:03AM | 0 recs
Re: Defend them if you want.
Impossible, unless you are the largest retailer in the country, have enormous resources in terms of PR, and operate without competition in many of the rural areas where your "supercenters" are the only place for 100 miles for the staples of life. They do set prices, that is the point. They dictate what they will pay, and suppliers either eat the loss and do business with WM, or lose an entire market. Hey, I'm no communist, but when does "real big" become "too big"?
by OxBuzzard 2005-02-10 11:36AM | 0 recs
Re: Defend them if you want.
Freedom fighter needs to look up the word "monospony" to understand why Walmart is so dangerous.
by risenmessiah 2005-02-10 11:54AM | 0 recs
Re: Defend them if you want.
Monospony, hmm. well maybe.  It would of course be the problem of rural communities as I seriously doubt Wal-mart has driven every other retailer out of major cities.  I am not sure what would be an appropriate market action in that case, however, it would be a tough one. I am would be interested to hear your ideas on that one.  
I'll finally just leave this topic.  My main point I guess is that if you don't like Wal-mart, don't go there, and encourage others to do the same.  But let's not use political power to force unionization or other market interference when people should decide for themselves the benefits and or downsides of shopping there.
by Freedom Fighter 2005-02-10 12:18PM | 0 recs
Re: Defend them if you want.
Why not let workers decide for themselves if they want to be in a union?
by Eric in Texas 2005-02-10 12:26PM | 0 recs
Re: Defend them if you want.
Unions don't work without government interference.  When workers attempt to artificially raise wages through unions employers will refuse because they can always hire at the wage rate.  So example, if I told my employer that I and all my co-workers will only work for $50,000 a year or we won't work my boss would laugh, fire me and easily hire someone else for less than I asked.  The government would have to force my employer to give in.  But the thing is, who needs the job more-me, that refuses to work unless I get the higher wage or the person that could easily replace me that's willing to work for less?
by Freedom Fighter 2005-02-10 12:49PM | 0 recs
Re: Defend them if you want.
While laws that were passed in the New Deal made it easier to organize unions, and the Taft-Hartley Act made it harder, some unions were successfully organized prior to legislative intervention.  10% of industrial workers were unionized in the 19th century.  

See a brief history here.

by Eric in Texas 2005-02-10 01:50PM | 0 recs
Re: Defend them if you want.
Why should we avoid political power. Wal-Mart uses its network of influencial politicians, lobbyists and media hacks to operate with impunity in myriad geographical areas. Since you feel the WalMart employee is a charity case, wouldn't it be more desirable to give them a boost up. See, If Walmart worker moves up, then reputable retailers would be mortified at actually paying less than WalMart. Then, maybe a few of your charity case stockers and checkers might be able to afford health, dental, a retirement, etc. I know this flies in the face of your pure unrestrained capitalism, but so does Marijuana prohibition.
by OxBuzzard 2005-02-10 12:34PM | 0 recs
Re: Defend them if you want.
I fully support blocking Wal-mart political maneuvers, just not implementing any of our own on top of that.
by Freedom Fighter 2005-02-10 12:36PM | 0 recs
Re: Defend them if you want.
No, monospony dude. Not one seller, but one BUYER. The reason the low wages are a problem is not because they are just cheap and souless, its because they are so big that they exert negative price pressure on sellers. Walmart rolls into a company and dictates the price. So while it doesn't hurt the other big box stores, it does mean their suppliers get screwed and opens the door to take products from companies like China where worker exploitation is awful.

That is why Walmart's low wages hurt the average American, not just their employmees.

by risenmessiah 2005-02-10 09:02PM | 0 recs
Andy Stern!
This is what Andy Stern is talking about when he says we need to unionize an entire market at once.  The problem is that, with Wal-Mart, you have to get the entire nation, or at least an entire region.  There's no way in hell Wal-Mart would close everything down in, say, Texas.  Here's a quote from the article:
Stern's favorite example concerns the more than 10,000 janitors who clean the office buildings in the cities and suburbs of northern New Jersey. Five years ago, only a fraction of them were unionized, and they were making $10 less per hour than their counterparts across the river in Manhattan. Stern and his team say they were convinced from talking to employers in the fast-growing area that the employers didn't like the low wages and poor benefits much more than the union did. Cleaning companies complained that they had trouble retaining workers, and the workers they did keep were less productive. The problem was that for any one company to offer better wages would have been tantamount to an army unilaterally disarming in the middle of a war; cheaper competitors would immediately overrun its business.

The traditional way for a union to attack this problem would be to pick the most vulnerable employer in the market, pressure it to accept a union and then try to expand from there. Instead, Stern set out to organize the entire market at once, which he did by promising employers that the union contract wouldn't kick in unless more than half of them signed it. (Getting the first companies to enter into the agreement took some old-fashioned organizing tactics, including picket lines.) The S.E.I.U. ended up representing close to 70 percent of the janitors in the area, doubling their pay in many cases, from minimum wage to more than $11 an hour. Stern found that by bringing all of the main employers in an industry to the table at one time, rather than one after the other, he was able to effectively regulate an entire market.

If you don't get all of them, the company can do dirty deeds like they did in Canada and Jacksonville, TX.  The goal isn't to shut down this company one store at a time, the goal is a better life for the people that work there.

Unions are the way to get that life.

by Eric in Texas 2005-02-10 10:27AM | 0 recs
The Best Union is
The comprehensive welfare state. That way businesses can compete and the workers will never go hungry.
by Paul Goodman 2005-02-10 11:21AM | 0 recs
Re: The Best Union is
Socialism.  I don't know if you've lived in a socialist country, I have. I lived in Europe for quite some time(I know what you think, rich elitist son-it actually was for a service project of sorts).  Those that are unemployed, seniors, college students and others who just don't work think it's great, those that work bear the burden and hate it(obviously this is a generalization, but I met many frustrated people). The working population was constantly frustrated about paying for anything. Some people get tired of it they just stop working.  Sure, medical care was 'free', but those who wanted good care and that needed to see a doctor quick paid for it out of their own pocket.  But now I've opened another can of worms. Woops.
by Freedom Fighter 2005-02-10 12:35PM | 0 recs
Re: The Best Union is
Wow, you got a complete sampling of the feelings of Europe? Bet that took a while. I was in the Army in Germany for 3 years and met enough Germans to know that some bitch about taxes, some don't. Some bitch about healthcare, some don't. I know that there are not 40 million Germans or proportional number without healthcare. I am sorry to say this, but your arguments seem the teensiest bit right of center. Doesn't Hannity have a website, isn't there an O'Reilly book that needs reading?

Peace to you, Freedomfighter.  Or Megadittos.

by OxBuzzard 2005-02-10 12:50PM | 0 recs
Re: The Best Union is
I didn't do a full sampling, you're right.  I'm making observations, but I did spend almost my whole day, every day, for a couple of years in Italy talking to people, so I just said it was an observation, not scientific research.  I'll admit the attack based on the limited experience of one person is erroneous however, and definitely would be tilted by my own political leanings.  My arguments against socialization are based I guess more on my studies in economics, and from now on I will have to focus on that.  Am I right of center? Yes.  Are you left of center? Most likely.  Can we learn something from each other? I hope so.  Otherwise I suppose I can go to a Hannity website (who I despise) and you can stay here and we will just keep ranting to people who think the exact same as we do accomplishing nothing but animosity and divisiveness.
by Freedom Fighter 2005-02-10 01:34PM | 0 recs
Re: The Best Union is
Never underestimate animosity and divisiveness as sources of cheap entertainment. Try to think of socialized health as a safety net for people at or near the poverty line. Of course the people with money can afford better and should be free to choose their provider. It is the people that make 5-10 grand a year that I worry about. By the time you are 26 and have 3 kids, it's too late or logistically impossible to start over--you're stuck, you're poor and your kid gets strep. This is the reality for many people and it is easy to say that the unemployed and college students love the system but the workers hate it but there has to be a way to help these folks get healthcare. It is about the kids. Kids do not choose to have drug addicted or otherwise unstable parents and I am dumb enough, and liberal enough to feel that we can do right by them. I bear you no ill will, FF, and I appreciate your taking the time to respond...late band practice........ concentration waning-must drink brandy..................
by OxBuzzard 2005-02-10 07:33PM | 0 recs
Re: The Best Union is
I enjoyed your first sentence, very funny, and unfortunately very true.  I understand not wanting anyone to go without basic healthcare.  My own conclusion on this is that most people if left without government mandated programs, will still try to help those without healthcare, especially children.  In fact in speaking with an eye doctor when he was going through medical school, even before all these social programs, he was told that he would have patients that couldn't pay but to not worry about it since those who could pay would make up for it-they didn't tell them to turn away people who couldn't pay.  Similarly when my family was struggling because my dad went without work for a long time our doctor would charge us less or not at all.  I guess I feel without government intervention people are still pretty generous for those in dire need.  The fact of the matter is that all healthcare decisions, like life, require cost-benefit trade offs, and either we have to decide those things as individuals or we give that decision making to our government leaders.  Again, I think we both recognize the need to help others, though, we just have difference of opinion on how those services would or should be provided.  
by Freedom Fighter 2005-02-11 09:35AM | 0 recs
Just Think
if Proposition 72 (requiring all large employers to provide health care to their employees) had passed here in CA.... Those closed Walmart would be great as new parks and other open spaces for the communities invovled. But I have to say I understand people not sure what is the difference between Walmart and say Target, BestBuy, Costco, and other stores that operate on volume not on value or traditional margin. If you are curious, investigate closely and you will see that many of these big retailers are not exactly worker friendly but are far less exploitative than Walmart. Which is the whole point. Walmart crows and crows that they are all about career employees and such but they know nearly all their employees can't climb the corporate ladder. So there's very little motivation to care about the people at the bottom, expendable as they are. Remember Federalist 51: If all men were angels...there would be no need for government.
by risenmessiah 2005-02-10 11:52AM | 0 recs
Costco is the exception
They are unionized, pay thier workers well, and thier management donates to the Democrats heavily.  What profits they lose by paying thier workers well they make up with high productivity, lower turn over, lower worker's comp claims, lower lawsuits by employees, etc., etc.
by Geotpf 2005-02-10 10:30PM | 0 recs
Re: Costco is the exception
But even here in California, they were trying to lobby for rule changes by having their own unionized workers staff tables to gather signatures for petition drives. Talk about being beaten with your own hand. Costco's profit model is older than Best Buy but newer than say K Mart. Costco has no sales staff, no expertise...instead they break even if you buy bulk and pay your fee. They make money if you buy a big ticket item which naturally has higher margin. In addition, they tend to have embraced the idea of the living wage and base themselves in Washington State precisely to allow the corporation's officers to benefit (no state income tax in WA). Target and Best Buy (both from MN of all places) have a slightly different schtick. They predatorily price cheap things hoping to get you into the store to buy something else. Unlike Costco, that "something else" need not be expensive because the predatorily priced items are thinks like CDs which are still purchased for much less than the MSRP. If I have a choice, I go to Costco first. If not, I'll go to Target, and I used to say after that I would go to Walmart out of desperation. After Prop 72 and their misleading advertsing, the next time I shop at Walmart might have to be a gunpoint.
by risenmessiah 2005-02-11 12:57AM | 0 recs
Re: Costco is the exception
Costco is blue because they operate in mostly blue states with stricter labor laws, as opposed to their main competition, Wal-Mart, who operates in mostly red states with weak labor laws.

I don't believe Costco is so much altruistic as it just wants to level the playing field.

by wayward 2005-02-11 02:08AM | 0 recs
This brings up an issue I've thought about
There are several wealthy people putting money into building liberal foundations and activist groups (Soros and so on), and I'm not necessarily knocking them.  But I have to wonder how much more effective they would be if all that money were instead put into an all-out effort to unionize all the big-box stores, all at once.  Not just Wal-Mart but also Home Depot, Target, Best Buy, etc etc.  Not just one store at a time, as we have seen how Wal-Mart will react, but every single Wal-Mart at once.  That will take a huge, all-out effort.  It will take a lot of money.  It will not be easy.

Of course the big question is, are the wealthy donors putting so much into liberal groups willing to support a big unionization effort  (that is, barring any legal reason why they could not, such as businessmen pouring money into unionization efforts being considered "anticompetitive behavior" by the government?)  Or are unions not the sort of "progressivism" that Soros et al had in mind?

That aside, unionizing Wal-Mart and all the other big box stores should be priority #1 for the Democrats/progressives/liberals/left right now.  When that is accomplished, the next step should be to unionize the entire third world, which is the only thing ever historically proven to end sweatshop conditions and usher in a strong, large middle class.  

I have to wonder if any other effort by liberals or progressives, that doesn't have reviving organized labor as the centerpiece, isn't just a waste of time that will result in more lost elections?  Progressivism rises and falls with organized labor.  The fate of the Democratic Party at the ballot box rises and falls with organized labor.  Indeed, the middle class itself rises and falls with organized labor.  It would be interesting to see if some of our more wealthy supporters understand that fact and are willing to put their money toward the one thing that will truly help us - union organizing?

by ACSR 2005-02-10 07:19PM | 0 recs
LTE from Indy Star
Below is a LTE to the Indianapolis Star that shows the arguments and mindset you'll need to respond to in order to convince people that unionizing Wal-Mart is in the public interest:


Union demands hurt Wal-Mart workers

February 11, 2005

The demands of United Food and Commercial Workers of Canada on a Wal-Mart in Jonquiere, Quebec, have forced the store to announce its closure, as it cannot remain open and profitable.

To the 200 soon-to-be former Wal-Mart employees, I have a question. Do you still think you're better off with union representation now that you're losing jobs and benefits? This is yet another example of a union caring more about its own influence than it does about the very people it is supposed to represent.

Ray Walton

Indianapolis

by Curt Matlock 2005-02-11 09:07AM | 0 recs

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