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Friday, August 01, 2008

More On Wal-Mart's Strong Arm Tactics

A little more regarding Wal-Mart's mandatory, anti-union and anti-Democrat themed employee meetings as revealed in today's WSJ. I'm not an attorney, but it seems to me this has to be in violation of, or at least skirting some sort of labor laws, does it not? If not, it ought to be.

If you ask me (and if wishes were ponies and all of that), Wal-Mart (less than affectionately referred to in our household as "The Beast") should be target number one for organized action by all of the ancillary union folks that may be a part of its larger network of vendors/providers/whatnot. Though I wonder if Wal-Mart even deals with outside businesses that do allow unions. Regardless, they should bear the full weight of an organized organized labor action, including the support (vocal, at least, and perhaps as consumers as well) of unions that have no dealings with the corporation at all.

In any case, an email which came in to Wal-Mart Watch a couple of weeks back:
Today’s explosive story from the Wall Street Journal lays bare the scare tactics Wal-Mart uses on its employees, but that story would not have been possible without the several brave Wal-Mart employees who stepped up and spoke out about the company’s practices. One employee wrote in to our website about Wal-Mart’s mandatory political meetings, but was too afraid of the company to write much:

If you or someone you know works for Wal-Mart and has something to say, we encourage you to speak out. All information is confidential and will not be released for any reason without permission.
Marketwatch has this interesting take on the issue:
The company, and a lot of other U.S. businesses, are concerned the bill will pass and be signed into law in the event that Sen. Barack Obama wins the presidency and Democrats make further gains in the Senate.

It's hardly surprising that Wal-Mart, the largest private employer in the U.S., would be wary of such a measure.

But whether it can make a plausible case to its employees against it without becoming deeply entangled in the complexities of labor law is another question.
It's not that Wal-Mart can't afford any penalties it might ultimately face for lobbying -- some would argue intimidating -- workers about how to vote. It's simply a question of whether it can afford the fallout of being seen as so directly political.

Presumably its customer base is fairly representative of the overall U.S. population's political beliefs. So the fear of unionization has to be pretty strong to risk alienating half its customers.

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