We reported on February 22, 2000 (see newsflash below) that meat cutters at a Wal-Mart superstore in Jacksonville, Texas had voted 7-3 to accept the United Food & Commercial Workers as their union. Wal-Mart, which has said it is non-union, not anti-union, is appealing that union vote to the National Labor Relations Board. But in the meantime, the company is not stewing over what the meat cutters did to them. Wal-Mart decided to do a little cutting of its own. In a move that they told the Amarillo Globe-News and the Associated Press had “absolutely nothing” to do with retaliation against the union, Wal-Mart announced this week that it was closing down its meat-cutting operations in 180 stores across six states. Wal-Mart is going to switch to “prepackaged” meat, which simply means that some vendor outside of the company cuts the meat up before it gets shipped to Wal-Mart’s distribution centers. Wal-Mart claimed it would find jobs for the meat-cutters who are losing their jobs. The company also says that this move to prepackaged meat was in the works for months, and would take effect by June. The company did not indicate whether or not its customers (who are the boss) had clamored for prepackaged meats. Normally shoppers like to get freshly cut meat, but perhaps the customers like to have their meat cut off premises. It was just a coincidence that the move to prepackaged beef comes just after the meat cutters historic vote to unionize.
If Wal-Mart can trim off the meat-cutters when they vote for a union, what on earth will Wal-Mart do when its cashiers decide to join a union? Wal-Mart’s story just doesn’t cut it. For most shoppers, this cutting of the meat cutters is 100% bull. Coming soon to a Wal-Mart near you: prepackaged cashiers.