Quebec Wal-Mart Workers Unionize
- By Ylan Q. Mui, Washington Post
The contract is a significant step in the ongoing battle between Wal-Mart and labor groups, which say that the retailer pays low wages and is stingy with health benefits. Earlier this week, the AFL-CIO and other unions filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission over reports in the Wall Street Journal that Wal-Mart managers were discouraging workers from organizing and advocating against electing Democrats, who they say are likely to pass the Employee Free Choice Act.
That proposal would allow unions to organize through signature drives or by signing authorization cards, similar to Canadian labor laws, Forman said. Companies can request that workers vote by secret ballot. The UFCW and the Service Employees International Union have tried for years to organize Wal-Mart employees and have met staunch resistance from the company.
In 2000, 11 meat cutters at a Texas store won union recognition, the first in the United States. Soon after, Wal-Mart eliminated such positions at 180 stores in six states. It said the two events were not related. In 2005, Wal-Mart shuttered a store in Jonquière, Quebec, after workers voted to unionize. At the time, the company said the employees' demands would have made it impossible to sustain business.
"U.S. workers continue to wait to get the same respect from Wal-Mart," said David Nassar, executive director of the union-funded Wal-Mart Watch. "If higher wages, better benefits and fair treatment are incompatible with Wal-Mart's way of doing business, it's time for the company to change -- which is what Wal-Mart Watch has been saying all along."