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Teacher Newsmagazine Volume 17, Number 7, May/June 2005

Wal-Mart closure about power not profits

Six months ago, 200 men and women in Jonquière, Quebec, became members of the United Food and Commercial Workers. For exercising their legal right to join a union, their employer decided to teach them and their families and their community a bitter lesson.

They fired all of them by telling them their store will shut in three months.

Wal-Mart says it wasn’t because they joined a union. Wal-Mart says it was just a business decision. In a way, it was. Wal-Mart decided to become union-free because, to Wal-Mart, their employees are worthless.

Wal-Mart, which now controls the working lives of 70,000 Canadians, made a business decision, disposing of 200 men and women in Jonquière. They think it is a good long-term investment in creating fear in the rest of their employees across Canada and the U.S.

UFCW is filing charges against Wal-Mart for bargaining in bad faith because Wal-Mart never had any intention of reaching an agreement. Wal-Mart made its decision to close the store months before they sat down at the table. They made the decision the day the labour board certified the union.

The union will also be filing unfair labour practice charges regarding Wal-Mart’s vindictive actions in Jonquière and asking the Quebec Labour Relations Commission to force Wal-Mart to prove that the store in Jonquière was losing money.

Wal-Mart’s calculated ruthlessness was not about profit. It was about power—the absolute power Wal-Mart wants over its workers, its suppliers and towns where it does business.

Source: UFCW, CALM

The Wal-Mart manager’s handbook

"Staying union free is a full-time commitment.

"Unless union prevention is a goal equal to other objectives within an organization, the goal will usually not be attained. The commitment to stay union free must exist at all levels of management—from the chairperson of the board down to front-line manager.

"Therefore, no one in management is immune to carrying his or her own weight in the union prevention effort. The entire management staff should fully comprehend and appreciate exactly what is expected of their individual efforts to meet the union free objective... Unless each member of management is willing to spend the necessary time, effort, energy, and money, it will not be accomplished. The time involved is...365 days per year."

(From a handbook Wal-Mart distributes to managers)

Source: BCTGM Report/CALM


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