Union once again looking to organize Wal-Mart workers

By Paul Demko
Friday, May 01, 2009 at 6:00 am

angry smileyWith revenues of roughly $400 billion and 1.4 million workers at more than 4,000 stores in the United States alone, Wal-Mart is the largest company in the world.

Yet for the last five years, the United Food and Commercial Workers — the largest union in the country representing retail workers — has largely eschewed organizing drives aimed at Wal-Mart workers.

After years of unsuccessfully seeking a toehold within the retail chain, the union simply decided that under current labor laws trying to organize workers in the face of fierce corporate resistance was futile.

“Workers at Wal-Mart have wanted to organize for a long, long time and have made efforts in various places,” says Doug Mork, organizing director for UFCW Local 789. “But there just hasn’t been a real possibility. If their employers have been committed enough and capitalized enough to fight them to the mat on it, workers simply haven’t had the opportunity to organize under existing labor law.”

But the UFCW now vows that its capitulation to Wal-Mart is over. The union has started organizing campaigns in 17 states, including Minnesota, targeting more than 100 stores. The impetus for the organizing drive: the new administration in the White House and the possibility of passing the Employee Free Choice Act. Under the proposed legislation, workers would join a union after more than half of the workers sign a card indicating support. Under present law, an election must be held to determine whether a majority of workers are in favor of joining the union.

President Obama has consistently voiced support for the Employee Free Choice Act. UFCW organizers are utilizing cards with a picture of the popular president to entice workers to sign off on unionization. The cards include a 2007 quote from Obama specifically calling out Wal-Mart. “I don’t mind standing up for workers and letting Wal-Mart know they need to pay a decent wage and let folks organize,” he said at the time.

But the proposed legislation has floundered as the economy has tanked. President Obama has not made it a top legislative priority, and some former supporters, including Sens. Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark) and Arlen Specter (D-Penn.), have turned against it.

UFCW’s Wal-Mart campaign is part of an effort by organized labor to build support for the Employee Free Choice Act and apply pressure to Congress.

“Every union has been lifting up clear examples of where current law has not worked well,” says Mork. “Wal-Mart is clearly one of the examples for the UFCW. There’s adequate evidence that all sorts of people can look and say, ‘Yes, workers at Wal-mart wanted to organize.’ There’s been clear energy and interest in the past, and they’ve been able to completely shut it down.”

In the Twin Cities, UFCW has had discussions with workers at nine stores, according to Mork. But it’s difficult to say whether the union is gaining significant traction. Mork is reluctant to specify exactly how many workers have so far signed cards indicating support for joining the union.

“I don’t want to give Wal-Mart any information that they don’t have in terms of what’s happening here,” he says. “We’re certainly not a majority anywhere yet. But we’ve got stores where significant numbers of folks have signed.”

Wal-Mart seems unfazed by the campaign. “We have noticed that the UFCW has been working harder in its attempt to get Wal-Mart associates to sign union cards,” says Daphne Moore, a spokesperson for the company. “We don’t think our associates have any reason to be more interested than before.”

However, the retailer is notorious for the lengths it will go to keep organized labor out of its stores. When meat cutters at a Texas store voted to unionize a decade ago, the company responded by eliminating meat cutters from 180 stores in six states. After workers at a Wal-Mart in Canada voted to join a union in 2004, the company shuttered the store.

But less dramatic tactics are the backbone of Wal-Mart’s crusade to keep unions out of its stores, as documented in a 2007 report by Human Rights Watch. Managers are given extensive training in union prevention techniques. New workers are required to watch anti-union videos. There is a union hotline that managers are directed to call at the first hint of organizing so that advice can be dispensed directly from the corporate headquarters in Bentonville, Arkansas.

Nelson Lichtenstein, author of the forthcoming book The Retail Revolution: How Wal-Mart Created a Brave New World of Business, says such tactics have now become standard for national retail chains. “It’s no longer extraordinary,” says Lichtenstein, who teaches labor history at the University of California, Santa Barbara. “Now everyone does it. Target does exactly the same thing.”

While these tactics have undoubtedly played a major role in keeping organized labor out of Wal-Mart stores, some observers also argue that unions haven’t made a persuasive case to workers.

“Why is it that workers that everybody acknowledges are not really that well paid are also not willing to vote to put a union in place at Wal-Mart?” asks Charles Fishman, author of the The Wal-Mart Effect. “That’s the $12-an-hour question. … What it says is people don’t think the union has more to offer them than Wal-Mart.”

Fishman points out that if every Wal-Mart worker received a $2 an hour raise, it would eat up all of the company’s $12 billion in profits.

“If Wal-Mart were to be unionized, the stores might look the same,” he says. “The prices wouldn’t be the same, and the way the place operated wouldn’t be the same. Because there’s no room in there to be quote-unquote more generous to people on benefits or pay or staffing without changing the operation.”

After years of unsuccessful battles with Wal-Mart, the UFCW has been content in recent years to concentrate on bloodying the company’s image. The main vehicle for this effort has been the “Wake-Up Wal-Mart” marketing campaign. Through a Web site, protests and other communications tools, the UFCW has tarred Wal-Mart as a corporate behemoth that treats its workers like dirt and routinely violates labor laws.

There is some evidence that the campaign has been successful in affecting consumer behavior and instigating changes in Wal-Mart’s personnel policies. For example, the company has twice in recent years altered its health-insurance policies to make them somewhat more affordable for workers. And in December it settled 63 lawsuits alleging that Wal-Mart failed to pay employees their rightful wages for $352 million.

“They’ve had a positive impact, particularly on health insurance and particularly on the notion that somebody’s watching Wal-Mart,” says Fishman, about the “Wake Up” campaign. “We all know how we do the dishes, clean the kitchen, fold the laundry, rake the leaves if someone’s standing there with their arms crossed watching us.”

Now the UFCW hopes to capitalize on that groundwork by organizing workers.

Peter Rachleff, a labor historian at Macalester College, believes the time is ripe for the UFCW to take another run at Wal-Mart.

“Their anticipation of EFCA getting passed and their estimation of a changed political and economic climate all make this a time — not necessarilly a good time or an easy time — but a necessary time to shift their strategy and try to organize Wal-Mart,” he says.

But that doesn’t mean he believes they’ll be successful. “There‘s a lot at stake,” he says. “I’m not optimistic.”

Lichtenstein is even more blunt in assessing the UFCW‘s chances. “They know it will fail,” he says. “It’s designed to fail.”

But even failure can have an upside. “Demonstrating that failure shows we need something new,” Liechtenstein says. “We need a new law.”



Comment posted May 1, 2009 @ 12:51 pm

china-mart…….part and parcel of the race to the bottom !

richard myers
Comment posted May 1, 2009 @ 2:30 pm

If Wal-Mart’s $12 billion in annual profits was distributed equally in the base pay rate among all 1.4 million employees in the U.S., by simple math, it would result in more than a $4 per hour increase for the year. This may be an oversimplification, but so is the $2 per hour mentioned in the article, it appears. A little elaboration of how this figure was arrived at would be helpful.

Comment posted May 2, 2009 @ 7:18 am

If there was ever an employer that needs to be organized, it’s Wal-Mart.

Daphne Moore’s statement is a joke. Wal-Mart knows all too well (from all the lawsuits against the Company) that their poor and illegal treatment of employees is legendary. Wal-Mart is at the forefront of a segment of the corporate culture that typifies what is wrong with the way workers are treated in America.

george donte
Comment posted May 2, 2009 @ 10:39 am

Wal Mart is a classic example of why labor law should be fixed. They constantly badger and intimidate workers behind close doors about unionizing efforts. This starts the moment you hire in. They make subtle threats in a way that makes a person feel that their job will be on the line if they support a union. At first they are really nice to an employee and then if they notice that the employee supports the idea of unionizing they turn up the heat. In the 30′s, companies used violence to make workers toe the line. Wal Mart utilizes highly paid professional union (busters) consultants to skirt around the law. It is hell on earth should an employee even attempt to unionize. Wal Mart also likes to turn workers against each other over the union issue. Its ridiculous! This should not be happening in America. Every American deserves a piece of the American Dream based on their hard work and the union can help Wal Mart employees achieve that. I worked at Wal Mart and never, ever again. I don’t even shop there. Wal Mart receives most of its goods from Communist China since they squeeze American manufacturers out of business. Really American isn’t it ? Wal Mart employees should organize by whatever means.

Comment posted May 2, 2009 @ 7:04 pm

Wal mart is your classic example of corporations doing what ever they want in a quest for profits, Workers and community be damned. When the riots start I hope to be at a wal mart watching the bon fire.

tad miller
Comment posted May 3, 2009 @ 10:59 am

I worked at a Wal Mart 3 years ago. I could not take managements bullying of older workers and their utter contempt of workers. They acted real nice at first and then they turn up the heat behind close doors away from the public. I worked late one night (after hours) and there was a rumor of union organizers outside. The manager of the store locked us all in ! I was so mad because I felt like a trapped Jewish person who was controlled by a Nazi. The manager said he was looking out for us. In other words, don’t talk to a union organizer. I immediately quit! They can keep their starvation wages and their Un-American ideals. I do not shop there and their workers should most definately unionize. They can go back to hillbilly Arkansas and stay there!

Comment posted May 5, 2009 @ 5:08 am

Walmart is a horrible company that makes the rich Walton family richer (along with company executives)while it takes advantage of all others from factory to sales floor.
Truely Walmart is a cancer to society.

Comment posted May 5, 2009 @ 8:31 pm

I’m 62 years old with 18 years of produce experience and over 30 years experience in retail. I wanted a part time job to help pay for the extras my wife and I love. I took a job at hell-mart. In all my years of working in retail I have never seen a company as heartless as wal-mart.

The pay is a joke, I was told my starting pay is based on my experience. LOL I make $8.30 an hr. I was told I would be part time 24 hr. a week. They have no one in the produce department who knows what they are doing so they work me 2 weeks at 40 hr. then 1 week of 32 hr. This way they don’t have to make me full time and wont have to pay for benefits.

When I complain about the number of hours I’m working they tell you how lucky you are.
The hours are a joke. I work Saturday and Sunday 4 am to 1 pm. Monday 9 to 6 Tuesday off Wednesday off Thursday 7 to 4 Friday 9 to 6 and back in at 4 am Saturday. Every week is different never the same from week to week. Cant plan anything.

God help you if you get sick you better come in and work no mater how you feel. If you are off sick 5 days in any 6 month period you are what they call coached. This is when they take you behind closed doors and read you the riot act, If you are sick 1 more day you are fired not only for an absence at this point for ant reason they want, say you punched in 2 minutes early that will work you fired.

I have seen people so sick coming to work they could hardly stand up. They don’t care. If they ask to go home they are told it will count against them if they do. I was told even if your doctor puts you off from work you still have a count against you. There is absolutely no excuse for being sick.

There is a God and I just pray one day that the Walton family pay for the way they treat the people who make them rich.

I have only been there for 7 months and I could tell you things you wouldn’t believe, it is unreal the way they treat the employees

Comment posted May 5, 2009 @ 8:53 pm

What garbage… Miller… You were locked IN??? I find that comment b.s. No cell phones? Couldn’t call the cops? You say you quit the next day, but didn’t have the wherewithal to quit on the spot and walk out? I find your “tale” a total lie. As for the rest… It is not illegal to unionize. And if companies try to stop organizers they are in violation of many laws. The unions however going onto private property (yes, WalMart is private property. Companies allow you on their premises to shop. Did you know you can run a stop sign on their property and you cannot get a ticket unless a store employee asks the police to give you one?) is illegal. How do you think the politically correct Target Corporation got the Salvation Army off of their property? Unions CANNOT organize on company property. EMPLOYEES can hand out union cards. In the end run… If working there is so fucking hard, then WHY do you work there? It can’t be that bad since WalMart is now the countries largest employer (private that is behind our soon to be fascist government.

Comment posted May 6, 2009 @ 12:12 am

Hey Gordon… Quit. You think you can’t find another job out there making more than 8.30hr? There are plenty of jobs out there, you have to look. And try looking outside your field of expertise, you’d be surprised. Are we in a recession, yes. But despite what you may think, there are jobs.

Comment posted May 7, 2009 @ 1:02 am

To add to my other comments. Went to a WalMart today. It was early, so I figured I would be more productive on my fact finding mission. So here’s what I did. I limited myself to a little over one hour in the Monticello store. I talked with ten people. Five employees and five customers. Did I profile, you bet. I singled out people dressed nicely/casually and a few who looked like they could barely afford the clothes on their back, much less dental work. I asked all of the employees who worked there if they enjoyed their jobs, if they ever felt harrassed, intimidated, if they thought the wage was fair. I was also very careful to point out that I was doing my survey as a result from comments I read in the Minnesota Independent (which btw to me is a misleading name, but whatever, I will appoint myself your conservative voice for the truth). One person thought she was underpaid but actually said she would not be able to find a job with her skill set that paid more. She said she used to waitress at a bar but physically couldn’t handle it anymore and was sick of the smoking and drunks (she said she had quit before the illegal smoking ban took place).
As for the patrons, the number one reason to shop at WalMart was price. The others were availability of product, store cleanliness and product/manufacturer choices. Oddly, a few mentioned that they would like to see more American made products in the store. I did not solicit the comments either, but am in full agreement, however this is indicative of every retailer, not just WalMart.
I came away thinking that this entire issue is bunk. I also thought that maybe I should go to a WalMart in a predominantly liberal neighborhood and do the same test, but so far I’m happy with the results.

j toney
Comment posted May 9, 2009 @ 10:03 am

Rick, you go into a store and start asking questions of a personal nature to employees? What are you trying to do Mr. Fact Finder, get people fired ? You disgust me! Get out of your parents basement and get a job!

jim thompson
Comment posted May 9, 2009 @ 3:02 pm

I will second that notion about Rick. Who does he think he is asking employees personal questions in a Wal Mart of all places. What a wacko! He must be a Wal Mart manager. It figures. He reminds me of someone who thinks everybody else should take a cut in pay but him. Be extremely grateful you don’t work for an idiot like that!

tad miller
Comment posted May 10, 2009 @ 9:33 am

Rick, you evidently didn’t read what I said. I quit on the spot at Wal Mart. As for your other stupid comments about questioning Wal Mart workers on the job. You are an idiot! Do you actually think that these people are going to say anything negative about Wal Mart on the job ? I totally don’t believe anything you write. I WORKED THERE!

jason q.
Comment posted May 10, 2009 @ 11:54 am

There are right wing, self righteous goofballs everywhere like Rick. Walk a mile in someone’s shoes Rick before you start analyzing people. Wal Mart should be unionized and the darn labor laws that are in effect right now DO NOT PROTECT Wokers in their right to organize. That’s why people are supporting the Employee Free Choice Act. As far as asking workers on the job about how their employer is treating them, come on! How stupid can you be! That will surely get someone fired. What a jerk! I agree. He needs to get out of his parents basement and get a job!

Comment posted May 11, 2009 @ 6:29 am

Hey Little d@#$ Rick if you dont like the mnindy why dont you go someplace fair and balanced like fox news for your news.

IDIOT !!!!

J. J. Jackson
Comment posted May 11, 2009 @ 8:07 am

All I can say is that things are CHANGING. I am not saying Wal-Mart is a bad company, this company actually does some great things for the community. But the way that some of the hourly workers are treated is unbelievable. I know first hand, I was an hourly worker. Home office in Bentonville, AR, doesn’t do much. Look it is about the general manger and the corporate office getting their $75K bonuses, if we want to be real here. Some bonuses at home office are over six figures and that is cool and all, but the maximum bonus for an hourly is $2,500.00 IF the store makes the target goal. Even with the recessive taking place do you think Wal-Mart said “hey all of the corporate office will not get a bonus this year?” Nope! That might have helped ease the stress and anger felt at the bottom feeder level, which is the hourly associates. The managers are terrible, not educated, some got the job because they are in the good old boy network, I am not racist, I am white too, but something needs to change. And now it is really too late for Walmart to act like they care and are sincere, because the damage is already done. Barack Obama has given us hope. Walmart even sent out a memo that many of us saw that was instructing folks how to vote, very silly! Let folks vote the way they want too, and IF wal-mart was doing everything the right way their workers would not be inclined to listen to or join unions. Walmart has heard all of this stuff before with open doors and grass roots opinion surveys but refused to take action. Now the hourly associates have started to stand up and speak their minds and I clap my hands for them. Change is coming!


Comment posted May 13, 2009 @ 4:32 am

Ah, what nice comments from the “civil” side of the politically leftist spectrum. Funny how someone like myself disagrees with people in a forum that offers equal input and am derided and told to go somewhere else. That’s fine, but it just proves my point how intollerant many of you really are when someone disagrees with your viewpoint.
Mr. Miller, thank you for correcting my misread. I would have sworn you had written you quit the following day after being locked in. What you did was commendable.
Additionally, I called a few friends up who know people who work at WalMart. Not much change from my initial “interviews.” There was more openness, such as my friend Cory down in Arlington, Texas who’s worked for WalMart over five years now. He said most of the people who are PO’ed most of the time are between jobs and using WalMart as a cushion. He also said that some employees hired were discovered to be union agitators and it wasn’t management that ran them out but the employees, mainly because their attitudes sucked and they were there basically pissing everyone else off. The bottom line he said was if it’s that bad to work there, then quit, which is what most do.
In closing, I now no longer am working in a plant represented by the Teamsters (the same union that used our pension to fund Ron Careys bid for re-election as Teamster president). I work in a plant that pays a great wage, comparable benefits and a higher than average 401k match vs. people doing the same job in a union plant. I’m happy! ;-)

james shutts
Comment posted May 14, 2009 @ 9:46 am

Wal Mart sets no standard of living for any working American and they are the largest corporation in the world. Cost of living statistics under the federal government (BLS) are averaged on union wages since they set the standard on liveable wages, NOT WAL MART and not EVER and certainly not your employer. If you are happy, so be it. You are still missing the whole picture. Your wages Rick are based on the fact that your employer knows that it MUST pay a decent wage because of union negotiated wages in other sectors. It isn’t based on you being a model employee. It’s based on economics my friend and pressures brought on your employer to pay a decent wage. When all unions are gone and this must be what you are implying, we will see what your wages and benefits will look like then. Organized labor is fighting for every American not just union folks. You are a free rider. Also, Ron Carey is not the President of the Teamsters Union and you are a damn liar!

donald hamilton
Comment posted May 14, 2009 @ 3:55 pm

Right on James. Rick is fabricator of great stories. Especially the one about Ron Carey using Pension Funds for his campaign which by the way is illegal. Unions have helped the little guy and they are still helping. Without a doubt. Guys like Rick want something for nothing. If we had more people like him, we would all be working at starvation wages. The so called free trade agreements and union busting tactics of politicians have decimated the middle class in America and unions are fighting back and thank God they are still here. People who claim that they don’t need a union are the biggest fools around. Rick, while your talking about Ron Carey lets talk about Bernie Madoff, Enron, AIG and every other corporate scum bag out there who have ravaged our country and screwed the little guy. Sure there are some decent employers out there but WAL MART is not one of them and you know it. Who are you kidding with your crap. Wal Mart brings in more goods from COMMUNIST CHINA than anyone and they squeeze the little guy out of business. How is that good for America ? Its only a matter of time when your own thinking will catch up to you and then it will be too late. YOU WILL BE OUT OF A JOB and then YOU CAN GO TO WAL MART and WORK! You deserve it!

Comment posted May 15, 2009 @ 2:57 am

Ok, one at a time…
James. Ron Carey (maybe you’re confusing him with John Kerry?) was president of the Teamsters when I was a union member (94-97) I met Jimmy Hoffa Jr while he was on the campaign trail and swung by the plant I worked at in San Diego. I actually like him. He was extremely nice and very affable. I’m well aware he was campaigning, but I could tell he’s a genuinely decent person.
Here’s a clip from doing a simple google search: Last week’s indictment of former Teamster President Ronald Carey is long overdue; the charges concern diverting money from the union treasury to his own re-election campaign back in 1996. Equally overdue is a broader look at the problem of union corruption, which is clearly widespread and probably growing.

Regarding my wage. I make on average more than my union counterparts, I have a great 401k match, medical and dental copays. Yes, I’m happy for that. Could things change? Sure. I have the right to quit. I can move on. That’s my point about the folks carping about WalMart. If it’s so damn bad,leave. The other thing you mention is my employer HAS to pay me what they do. No, not true. In my field our occupation in this area of the country is roughly 70% manned. There is a demand for us and our skills, thus if more machinists hit the market, our wages go down or stagnate. Simply put, it’s supply and demand. There are expectations of us too, don’t get me wrong. The screw offs are held accountable, but fortunately we have very few of those. Our latest dirtbag left 1 1/2 years ago.
Donald. Very passionate! Easily refutable. Most of what you said is explained/proven through facts above. However, please draw me a comparison between Carey, Madoff, ENRON, AIG etc. I agree with you on Madoff. I honesty think the guy should hang. Keep in mind he had some predecessors though, a couple of examples: Charles Keating, Michael Milken, both of whom should have spent the rest of their lives in prison. I totally agree with you on the Cinese angle. Their products suck, nothing is made to last, and we are killing ourselves. Labor has left this country for varying reasons. Costs of infrastructure, utilities, taxes, litigation, and yes labor are huge reasons for the departure of manufacturing. Imagine this… The corporate tax rate for companies operating here is second highest in the world, only behind Japan. European Union is about 1/2 of ours. Imagine if we dropped that rate to 20%. Companies would be able to invest that much more into themselves AND lower the costs of operating here. Imagine if we were to streamline the application process for building a nuclear powerplant. France derives over 70% of it’s power from nuclear plants. They can produce so much, they export it (as the do refined gasoline to the United States). Imagine if their was tort reform. Insurance prices companies pay would drop like a rock. Imagine allowing companies to build clean coal powerplants without threat of litigation such as Big Stone II. Imagine being able to tap our oil reserves here, creating jobs and keeping our wealth here rather than buying oil from people who can’t stand us and our way of living. Imagine cutting our imports in half from China and Venezuela. China supports whats going on in Darfur, Nigeria, and is committed to expanding it’s military arsenal in the Western Pacific, South China Sea and Taiwan, thus creating an atmosphere of instability. They are doing that with Western money from their exports. Their coal fired plants, which unlike ours come under no environmental standards pump tons of toxins intop the air daily, which rains down on our west coast poisioning our forests. Venezuela uses our money from their oil exports to fund dictator Chavez’s goal of a unified Central America through force. And he’s coming close.
Do you see my point?

john stabler
Comment posted May 16, 2009 @ 6:44 am

Rick, your analogy makes no sense at all. Union workers and their organizations are constantly in the trenches fighting for working Americans. Wal Mart doesn’t and NEITHER DO NON UNION workers. Labor organizations are lobbying Congress and State Representatives to create a better life for all of us in light of the “One World Economy” that the Bushs’ and their friends created which has wrecked havoc on the middle class. The whole blog here started concerning whether or not Wal Mart workers should/could organize. THEY CAN NOT effectively organize under current law which is why Congress is debating the Employee Free Choice Act to modify labor law. Every Wal Mart store that has successfully been organized was closed because WAL MART DOES NOT want its workers to share in its success through collective bargaining. Really, the American way, huh? Wal Mart promotes trade with communist nations and promotes manufacturing with those same entities. In areas of the United States where Wal Mart is very entrenched, it has been documented (by the government) that most of their workers are on public assistance because Wal Mart does not provide adequate health insurance. Crap like this costs the taxpayers while Wal Mart skates. Billions and billions of dollars Wal Mart makes and they fight their own workers right to organize. Real classy!

john stabler
Comment posted May 16, 2009 @ 11:28 am

Hell no, none of us see your stupid points. This whole blog started with Wal Mart and the attempts to unionize it. It has nothing to do with infrastructure but thank God we have one even though with Republicans running the country for 8 years our infrastructure has went to hell. Also, Wal Mart makes BILLIONS of dollars and more than 75% of their working population is on some sort of government assistance WHICH WE PAY FOR ! This has been documented by the US Government, Dept. of Labor statistics. So STOP making excuses for them, Rick. They should be ashamed of themselves for trampling on workers rights to organize. This is why the Employee Free Choice Act and other matters of labor reform are being taken up by the Congress. You non union workers stand for nothing. Nothing at all. You had better thank your lucky stars that labor organizations are out there, lobbying and pushing for workers rights and fighting against unfair trade agreements for all workers. Wal Mart’s family should be proud of their accomplishments but do not tell any of us that Wal Mart sets the standard for a decent living because they don’t. Quitting a job does not necessarily solve the problem either but changing the situation does, such as unionizing Wal Mart. It can not be accomplished under labor laws that favor the employer under todays America. Trading with communist countries is the most Un-American thing that has ever happened and Wal Mart is doing it, every day. You want a nuclear powerhouse ? Put it in your back yard along with the waste.

Comment posted May 20, 2009 @ 12:13 am

John, I’ll take a moment to refute your act of deception.
J.S. Union workers and their organizations are constantly in the trenches fighting for working Americans. Wal Mart doesn’t and NEITHER DO NON UNION workers.
R. I would disagree to a point. Most unions once the foot is in the door and solidify their collective bargaining agreement have an “ironing out period” where changes in the initial contract are noted. After that period, it’s pretty much the status quo, where pay and other issues (medical, pension etc) are demanded. If the union is entrenched, essentially they can hold the company hostage. My labor is represented by me. I’m smart enough to stand on my own and negotiate my salary. To wit, look at all of the contract labor in the work force today competing against each other and making a small fortune.

J.S. One World Economy” that the Bushs’ and their friends created which has wrecked havoc on the middle class.
R. Ummm, ya lost me here. Are you talking about NAFTA? That would be Bill Clinton. If not, much of the “world economy” you decry started in the early ’70′s.

J.S. THEY CAN NOT effectively organize under current law.
R. Can you please cite which law you are talking about? It is against Federal Law for a company to interfere with a union drive. This is known as the Wagner Act or The National Labor Relations Act of 1935. While this act has been amended, it is still fully in place with regards to forming a union.

J.S. Wal Mart promotes trade with communist nations and promotes manufacturing with those same entities.
R. Then do your damndest (like me) not to buy from these countries. I’m with ya on this one John. The goods made in China and many other countries manufactured and exported here are junk. I also do my absolute utmost to buy American. I’m an immigrant and one thing that I think many Americans don’t appreciate is how blessed they are to be Americans. I’ve felt the warm embrace of America allowing me into it’s arms, hence I do my absolute best to buy domestically made products. And yes, we’re cutting our own throats giving China our $$$ of which they turn around and chum up with countries that are either our enemies or dislike our way of life.
J.S. even though with Republicans running the country for 8 years our infrastructure has went to hell.
R. Please explain. And don’t cite the 35W bridge or any other bridge. Most bridges are built for a minimum 60 year life span, so your liberal buddies that ran the country 8 years before Bush are just as culpable.
J.S. Also, Wal Mart makes BILLIONS of dollars and more than 75% of their working population is on some sort of government assistance WHICH WE PAY FOR.
R. John, one of the saddest things I saw when I was in the service was the state of the military families. A lot of junior enlisteds with families were on food stamps and lived on base housing which on some bases was substandard and pathetic for our way of life. It’s still the same in some areas. Let me ask you this. If I pumped gas for 40hrs a week and had a family would it be any different if I were on food stamps? NO! What it would do would propel me to get out and improve myself. Which is what I did. Now two degrees later and substantial investment in myself, I’m making great money, buying American made vehicles (Escalade was my last purchase) and paying my share+ of taxes.
J.S. do not tell any of us that Wal Mart sets the standard for a decent living because they don’t.
R. They have saved the average American family $900 per year on their shopping bill.
J.S. Trading with communist countries is the most Un-American thing that has ever happened and Wal Mart is doing it, every day.
R. Ummm, so is Target, Macy’s, Payless Shoes, Sears, Best Buy and every other major retailer in the country. What about Nike? GM? How about checking where your stereo equipment and HDTV are made? I cited how we could become more competetive above, but maybe you missed it. Here it is again: Labor has left this country for varying reasons. Costs of infrastructure, utilities, taxes, litigation, and yes labor are huge reasons for the departure of manufacturing.
Please take a deep breath and reread my post right above yours.
J.S. You want a nuclear powerhouse ? Put it in your back yard along with the waste.
R. I live in Wright County. I have two powerplants in my backyard, one nuclear and one coal. I don’t glow and I don’t have black lung disease.

I admire your passion John, but you seem to be shooting from the hip rather than examining the entire picture. Please note that on some of your response I agree with you. But ramming news laws and regulations down manufacturers throats just makes us less competetive and plucks the petals of capitalism from the blossoming flower.

jack mallen
Comment posted May 22, 2009 @ 8:54 am

Boy, Rick, You really do not sound like a blue collar worker at all. First of all and contrary to all of your ravings. Labor law in this country namely the NLRA is broken, sir. There has been recent testimony on Capitol Hill by employees who were FIRED (illegally) for attempting to organize a union
in their workplaces. There were 20 (former) Wal Mart employees at this hearing chaired by Rep. George Miller who described in detail the tactics used by Wal Mart against its employees seeking to unionize. It was also documented by the National Labor Relations Board which administers the National Labor Relations Act. Along with those fired Wal Mart employees testifying were other illegally terminated employees who also attempted to organize a union at their workplaces across various occupations. The remedy for correcting company intimidation and illegal firings is a joke under the current law (NLRA). It can take up to 5 years to for an illegally fired employee to receive justice and this is well documented too. Rick, you are the one who is missing the point because you are so one sided. The voters have spoken in 2008 and BUSH/CHENEY……GONE!!!

John Stabler
Comment posted May 23, 2009 @ 8:35 am

Rick, I”ve got my facts straight. This blog is about Wal Mart workers attempting to unionize. Again, and very clearly, NON UNIONIZED workers DO NOT set wage standards in the United States. Nor do they COLLECTIVELY lobby, organize, bargain and promote safe working places. They can’t because there is no power in one individual at all. A group speaks louder than one. In all of my years of lobbying lawmakers on workplace issues there has NEVER been a group of non union workers there to promote any issue which would help workers. NOT ONE, not ever! Go to the National Labor Relations Board website and READ all of the charges against many companies that unfairly and illegally fire workers for exercising their rights under the NLRA. You will also see that many companies delay the bargaining process illegally. This has been going on and escalating since Ronald Reagan took office and accelerated under Bush/Cheney. By the way, Bill Clinton was not a liberal.

Comment posted May 29, 2009 @ 3:52 am

Jack, John…
Jack first. How can you tell that these employees were fired for trying to start a union drive and not performance issues? I’ve seen the two tied together. The person gets canned for doing something wrong, then says it’s because they favored a union, and of course the press picks up on it and runs with it. The NLRB law is very factual when it comes to organizing. If there was any merit to this, then those individuals could very easily file a class action lawsuit as has been done by other Walmart employees and they’ve won. As a fact one of those suits was right here in Minnesota regarding Federally mandated rest periods. Regarding your comment about the 5 years redress issue, I agree. But please tell me where any government investigation goes quicker, especially with a lawsuit attached. And we want MORE government? I also don’t understand your accusation of me being one sided, but if that’s your belief, so be it.
John, so setting wage standards is exclusive to unions??? Uh, no, I set my wage standard. If I feel I’m not being compensated enough for my labor I do two things. Prove my worth to my boss. If he says pound sand, then I look for another job. I would much rather have it that way than get paid the same as some joker who sits in a chair and complains how hard done by he/she is then scampers when the team lead walks around the corner. And thanks for showing your true colors. I had an inkling there was something fishy about your posts. You’re a lobbyist!!! That explains a lot. Let me ask you this: why would a group of non-unionized workers go and lobby any lawmaker? Think about it. The non-unionized ones are just more content than the unionized ones, that’s all.
Please tell me how companies delay the bargaining process too if you would. Do you mean negotiating a new contract? So what. Both sides have to agree to that, if not, the union can call a strike unless it’s being mediated (by a government official from the NLRB of course)
And both of you guys gotta hop off the “blame Bush/Cheney bandwagon. It’s Congress who enacts the laws guys, the President just makes them law. Who controlled Congress for most of Bush’s term?

john stabler
Comment posted May 30, 2009 @ 8:48 am

DUMMY!! Get out of your parents basement!

jason q.
Comment posted June 1, 2009 @ 4:35 pm

What are you Rick, some kind of a Wal Mart manager ? By the way, what Teamster Local Union were you a member of ? I don’t believe that you were even a member. Provide it or please just admit what you are.

jack mallen
Comment posted June 2, 2009 @ 4:28 pm

Rick, you set your own wage standard ? Wow, you are really super human and you say you look for another job if your boss says no to your demands. I’ll bet you look for a lot of jobs. Again, non union workers set no standards for anything in America because they represent nothing. They have NO collective voice and its a fact, Jack!

Wal-Mart accused of labor-law violations « At Home He’s A Turista
Pingback posted June 26, 2009 @ 6:30 pm

[...] 789 is part of a nationwide effort by the UFCW to organize workers at the country’s largest employer. The campaign, targeting more than 100 stores in 17 states, was prompted in part by the presence of [...]

walmart worker midway
Comment posted September 3, 2009 @ 2:15 pm

well the marking team must be up set their moving all the ass managers out of midway and to other walmarts.

Comment posted November 20, 2009 @ 11:59 pm

It seems that most retailers are really turning into fascists. I recently interviewed at Staples, which I worked at 10 years ago, and made $10/hour then.
When asked what my salary expectations were, I said I made $10 back then and was looking for similar, feeling that was being more than reasonable considering the recession and 10 years inflation, and 10 years customer service experience.
The manager kind of chuckled and said it was all handled by some “system” they have today, and that I would be lucky to get $8.00.
They also expect complete control over your schedule with no flexibility, and apparently have some new way of micromanaging your work, as well as having canned the previous performance based commissions with some new group based con.
Anyways, point being that these corporations are are truly turning themselves into feudal lords, treating workers lick garbage, and while people like “Rick” might be sitting lucky right now, this future is coming to him just as well.
Unless people start standing up you can’t call USA a free country.

Comment posted December 1, 2009 @ 10:49 am

oh this is making me think

Ron Jensen
Comment posted February 16, 2010 @ 4:58 am

In 2010 the recent pro-union gambit was killed when it was made clear that a new law would abolish all secret ballots regarding any union voting whatsoever.

Meaning of course that NOBODY can vote now, since this grossly unconstitutional lack of privacy will guarantee they’d be fired on the spot if they ever dared to vote pro-union.

A further shock came when even President Obama agreed with it!

Comment posted September 22, 2010 @ 2:01 am

Does China have unions? I think not! The people in China work 12 hours daily, not to mention 6 days a week for a very meager wage.

Just about everything you buy in our American stores has been manufactured in China.

Sure, we benefit short term… a quality product at a lower price. However, the long term result is quite obvious and painful for many American’s today. Lower wages and lost jobs!

The American Union’s slogan is Buy American!

It would be America’s dream come true if we were to have the biggest store chain called… Made in America!

Comment posted October 23, 2010 @ 1:55 pm

Actually Terri, believe it or not, China does have Unions. Granted, they are relatively few in number, but many younger workers in China are embracing the idea of fair wages and fair labor practices. Imagine that.
Eventually, there comes a time when workers need a united voice. Collective bargaining is just that. It empowers a random group of individuals, and gives them some control over their working conditions. Most employers are not anti-Union just because of “money”. They don’t want to give up any of the control they have over “their” workers. They want to keep all of the leverage. What we are seeing now with all of the unfair labor practices, the mistreatment, and exploitation of workers, are the same reasons Unions were started in the first place.
As long as there are still exploitable people left in this world, workers will continue to be mistreated. Slavery in this country wasn’t an institution “against” Africans, per say. Slave owners and traders had a complete and total disregard for another group of human beings, all in the name of free labor. It’s the same mindset we see with people who run places like Wal-Mart. They just live in a different century. To them, exploitable people are simply viewed as opportunity. If slavery were legalized again in this country, not only would slaves work there, but Wal-Mart would sell slaves there as well.
Unionized workers are on the opposite end of the spectrum. They are some of the least exploitable workers, who are able to defend themselves. But you see plants close here all the time, only to reappear in some third world country, where the “goal” of the company is to run it as closely to slave labor as possible. Think about it, wouldn’t everyone here be better off having good jobs, and buying American and Union made products, even if they costed a little more? What is the alternative? Every worker here eventually making minimum wage, with no insurance or benefits, no safe working conditions, and living in a shack full of cheap stuff made by pseudo-slaves from Bangladesh?
Personally, I find it remarkable that conservative talk radio and outlets like Fox “News” have convinced so many working people that they don’t need to be represented, even in the face of seeing their pay and benefits deteriorate. When they finally do feel anger and frustration, they direct it toward the very people who could help them the most, Unions. I used to work non-Union. I was an “employee at will”. I now see the differences like night and day. If certain groups have it their way, Unions will be gone in this country. And if we let it happen, all of the improvements in working conditions that the Unions have worked so hard for, for ALL workers, will be gone as well.

Comment posted February 28, 2011 @ 1:17 pm

Why is it if an exworker tells the truth about wall-mart there is ALL WAYS someone in about 30 seconds that says they LIE. Is it that Wall-Mart has someone is in the office in AK using some one elses internet name to make a come back and say they lie.Anyone can do this; Sam his self got up on a counter and walked around it and told all his hands if you vote this store UNION I will close it DOWN .There were it looked like about all the stores workers there. Jobs are hard to get and they know it .When times get better,and it will only after Sams brother OBAMA is kicked out in 2012 .You know brothers are one is say for the unions and the other is not;that is the way OBAMA and Wall-Mart are.Wall-Mart does the workers the way everyone says they do my daughter worked there for 4 months,had to work on breaks the hrs were never the same;also in I think it was on FOX NEWS that in on of the states in the southwest WALL-MART had trailers in the back (outside) and they had Mexicans ,(I call them wet backs because the swim across the river they make every day ;and that is the TRUTH) they were living in them .This is the way most places are doing now as times get harder down the road.Full time jobs are going by the side of the road,part time work is up big time.In Right to Work states is where the work is going.The South may have lost the war;but they are now winning now.The so call UAW and Teachers Union is the reason things are upside down .First the UAW,GM and DODGE got money from OBAMA then in less than 2 yrs each worker is getting a $3000.00 KICK to take HOME .This money should go to pay off the load they got from that UNION lover OBAMA.On the other side of the road the is your mother and dads that are on social security and they kicked in the ass for the last 2 yrs BY the DNC and OBAMAS friends.They have had NO COLA (cost of living raise) for the last 2 yrs looks as if it may be 1-2 more yrs.The first thing that comes of the DNC mouths we did not do that the GOP did. Both parties have done it.They base the COLA on July,Aug and Sept; 3 months out of the year not all 12.That way they have an out,why is it for the last 2 yrs those 3 months the cost went down then in Oct the cost of living goes UP;WOW the OBAMA plan at work.Kick the teachers Unions out all across the Nation;back when I was in school we learned more in 9 yrs than they do in 12 yrs now.The unions is the reason your school taxes is going up EVERY in every state ;if a great teacher comes in the door last when lay offs needs to be done that great teacher is the first to go.Look around at the teachers when you are in a school next time they teach to the test ,in Atlanta GA there are kids that can not read in the 12th grade The old line teachers pass then to make then look good ,the teacher.I have been a union man fore over 30 yrs in right to work states Tennessee and Texas;there are good unions and there are bad ,as there are good people and bad people .Oh GM is building a plant in CHINA to make new cars you unions are suckers now when GM moves to CHINA down the road you all history and it will happen .China may let a few of the big boys move there then when learn how it’s done they will kick you out and take over.To get back to Wall-Mart the family has all the money they will every need when people get that way they feel to hell with everybody else not all but most .Let the unions make a move on Wall-Mart and the War will be on and the unions will be saying help us OBAMA if he does Wall-Mart will and can put him out and take the unions up North .I also know a man or woman has to feed the kids then when times gets better get the hell out fast there are other stores out there to step in and fill that spot .Let the unions and Wall-Mart each other down.

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