Two strikes and you’re out. That’s the score in Canada, where Wal-Mart has now lost two Supreme Court battles in their three year effort to stop workers in its store in Weyburn, Saskatchewan from trying to form a union. Bloomberg News reported today that the Supreme Court of Canada refused to hear an appeal by Wal-Mart from a lower court ruling that said workers in the retailer’s Weyburn store could continue their unionization efforts. Wal-Mart tried to argue in the case “Wal-Mart Canada Corp. v. Saskatchewan Labour Relations Board” that the Labour Board should not be allowed to rule on their case because the Board is biased in favor of labor, and against Wal-Mart. Wal-Mart has been desperately trying to delay the unionization process. The Saskatchewan Labour Relations Board is now free to decide whether Wal-Mart workers at the Weyburn store should be certified, so they can bargain for a labor contract. Weyburn will be the third Wal-Mart store in Canada with active union status. “After losing in the high court, you’d think they have run out of stalling tactics,” a spokesman for the United Food and Commercial Workers union told Bloomberg News. In April of 2005, Wal-Mart lost an appeal to the Canadian Supreme Court, when the justices refused to overturn the Labour Board’s demand that the company turn over documents to the union. The workers first applied for union status in April 2004, so the company has successfully run up the union’s legal bills, and blocked the door to unionization. Wal-Mart stores in the Quebec towns of Saint-Hyacinthe and Gatineau are already unionized. Wal-Mart has taken the Gatineau unionization to court, the union said.
The very first Canadian Wal-Mart store to be unionized was in Jonquiere, Quebec. That store was closed by the company in April 2005 shortly after the workers voted in the union. At the time, Wal-Mart stated that closure of the store had nothing to do with unionization. In China, Wal-Mart has been forced to accept the state-run union, but in the U.S. and Canada, the retailer has aggressively worked to bust union activity at the store level through a careful campaign of employee surveillance, a special Union Hotline to alert the company, and anti-union teams to counteract union organizing store by store. Wal-Mart says it is not anti-union, just non-union. It arms its store managers with a manual that helps them profile potential trouble-makers among their workers, or union spies, known as “salts.” For related stories, search Newsflash by “unions.”