a citizen’s journal by Thomas Nephew

Posted by Thomas Nephew on July 17th, 2005 is a new anti-Wal-Mart effort that promises to focus on what I think is the principal reason to fight Wal-Mart — the company’s unionbusting, antilabor policies. The campaign is a project of the labor advocacy group American Rights at Work. As their press release puts it:

Wal-Mart’s efforts to squash unionization in its stores are swift and overwhelming:
• The company taps into calls and emails from stores around the country to monitor whether anyone is talking about forming a union.
• Store officials receive a toolkit to “Remaining Union Free” and are encouraged to call a hotline at the first sign of any interest in a union.
• Wal-Mart dispatches a rapid-response anti-union squad at any indication of its employees considering union formation.

A Wal-Mart & Workers’ Rights resource page links to a number of stories and sites documenting Wal-Mart’s anti-union tactics. Some of the most persuasive evidence comes from internal Wal-Mart documents (via From “A Manager’s Toolbox to Remaining Union-Free”:

In the event you find a union authorization card in your facility or hear associates are attending union meetings and signing authorization cards, it is imperative you contact the Union Hotline at 501-273-8300 immediately. Wal-Mart must respond to this type of union activity immediately in an effort to stop card signing before the required 30% signatures have been obtained.

The most notorious case of Wal-Mart union-busting occurred earlier this year in the Canadian town of Jonquiere, Quebec Province:

The Jonquiere store workers organized their union through a commonly-used process known as majority verification, in which a majority signed cards authorizing the union to bargain with Wal-Mart. When workers asked the Canadian government to act as an arbitrator in contract negotiations in early February, Wal-Mart responded by announcing it would close the store.

There are a number of anti-WalMart campaigns going on right now, run by the UFCW, the SEIU, the AFL-CIO, and various coalitions, and all are worth supporting. One thing the American Rights at Work campaign adds to the mix is policy-oriented research and advocacy on the nitty-gritty issues of organizing under current labor law. See, for example, Free and Fair? How Labor Law fails U.S. Democratic Election Standards (Acrobat file), by the University of Oregon’s Dr. Gordon Lafer, or the organization’s recent support for the Employee Free Choice Act.

The Wal-Mart petition you can sign is succinct:

We, the undersigned, demand that Wal-Mart
– Stop encouraging Wal-Mart personnel to spy on suspected pro-union coworkers and get rid of your anti-union hotline.
– Stop spending money on anti-union activities, including your “People Division,” an on-call unionbusting army which responds to the ‘threat’ of unions in your stores
– Stop closing stores or departments where your employees have decided to form a union

I’ve signed it. I hope you will, too.

Take Action: Tell Wal-Mart Enough is Enough

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