Wednesday, July 13, 2005


No one can dispute, Wal-Mart is a powerful corporate behemoth. Wal-Mart is one of the largest employers in the U.S. and is a huge and growing lobbying presence in Washington; sales to Wal-Mart singlehandedly account for roughly ten percent of of all Chinese exports to the US.

The Chinese government knows Wal-Mart is a behemoth. That's why when Wal-Mart wanted to open retail stores in China, the government forced them to recognize China's official labor union. Not so for the US government. Wal-Mart is notorious in the US for union-busting; the company even went so far in Canada as to close down a store earlier this year when workers there voted to form a union and the dangerous demonstration effect this would have in the US. In 2000, when a small meatcutting department successfully organized a union at a Wal-Mart store in Texas, Wal-Mart axed its in-store meatcutting department company-wide rather than face unionization.

When workers seek to exercise their basic human rights to freely associate in unions and bargain collectively (not to mention to prevent discrimination and abusive child labor), Wal-Mart responds by:

*spying on its employee's emails and telephone calls to detect pro-union chatter
*harrassing and firing union-leaning workers
*flooding the workplace with anti-union propaganda
*dispatching a rapid response team of union-busting consultants.

In the last few years, well over 100 unfair labor practice charges have been lodged against Wal-Mart throughout the country, with 43 charges filed in 2002 alone. Since 1995, the U.S. government has been forced to issue at least 60 complaints against Wal-Mart at the National Labor Relations Board (quite amazing given that the NLRB is comprised of presidential appointees, most often not too labor friendly).

Not only is Wal-Mart violating fundamental human rights, they are hurting their own bottome line with their irrational fear of unionization. A (sort of) recent Business Week article pits wharehouse store competitor Costco against Wal-Mart's Sam's Club. As it turns out, Costco is unionized, pays its employees higher wages and provides better benefits, and yet (may be a surprise to some), Costco has much higher labor productivity and better operating income growth.

If you are still shopping at Wal-Mart, stop and think for a minute about the people producing the goods you are buying and just how it is that Wal-Mart can have such low prices.

When you are done with that, visit, sign the petition, join the fight. What are you waiting for?


At 6:46 PM, Blogger Schroeder said...

Hmm...maybe US Wal-Mart workers should join the Chinese labor union.


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