Wal-Mart gives every store manager a thick “Manager’s Toolbox” manual on how to stop unionization efforts at Wal-Mart, including a toll free secret Union Hotline to report any suspicious activities. The early warning detection system apparently didn’t work at their store in Loveland, Colorado, where this week 17 “associates” at a Wal-Mart Tire & Lube Express petitioned for a union. The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) will hold a hearing this Thursday to consider the workers’ request to be represented by the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 7. “Wal-Mart workers don’t have to be second-class citizens,” the president of the union local told the Associated Press. Wal-Mart argues that the 17 workers are not a separate bargaining unit. “With approximately 400 associates in that particular facility, we feel that more than 17 associates should have a say on such an important matter,” said a spokeswoman for Wal-Mart. “Our associates see they don’t have to pay hard earned money to do what they can do every day,” she said. The UFCW was successful last month in getting the union certified at a store in Quebec, and several others union efforts in Canada are pending. On top of that, this week Wal-Mart agreed to let its workers at its 39 stores in China join a union. Four years ago, a group of meatcutters in Jacksonville, Texas voted to unionize, so Wal-Mart switched to prepackaged meat and eliminated the meatcutters’ jobs.
Wal-Mart says it is not anti-union, just pro-consumer. But its Manager’s Toolbox makes it clear that Wal-Mart is prepared to fight vigorously to keep out “third party representation.” But one wonders how many more years it will take Wal-Mart workers to look at the enormous accumulation of wealth by the Walton billionaires and not ask: “Why can’t they afford to give us a decent pay raise?” Wal-Mart claims its open door policy is the biggest barrier to unionization, but workers at Wal-Mart who have contacted Sprawl-Busters say the open door policy of approaching management simply means if you open your mouth, you’re out the door. For earlier stories on this subject, search this database by the word “union.”