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Mark Hudson

November 8, 2008

BU 242 IS1

Union Organizing at Wal-Mart

Many may not be aware of it but Wal-Mart is the nation’s largest retailer, with 1.2

million employees. For at least two decades many unions (the SEIU; the Food and

Commercial Workers Union; the UAW, etc.) have tried unsuccessfully to organize the

workers at Wal-Mart. Critics of Wal-Mart suggest that Wal-Mart’s union-busting tactics

are in violation of the National Labor Relations Act (Wagner Act), the law which gives

employees the right to form and join unions. These rights have been violated. Allegedly

Wal-mart has been practicing unfair labor practices. Can A store legally close a store if

the workers decide to form or join a union? Wal-mart has been fined for some of its

unfair labor practices.

“Wal-Mart workers have virtually no chance to organize because they’re up

against unfair US labor laws and a giant company that will do just about anything to keep

unions out,” said Carol Pier, senior researcher on labor rights and trade for Human Rights

Watch. “That one-two punch devastates workers’ right to form and join unions.”

The National Labor Relations Act of the Wagner Act of 1935 was created by

Congress to protect workers' right to unionization. Labor laws grant employees the right

to unionize and prohibits/allows employers and employees to engage in strikes, picketing,

and lockouts for the soul purpose of having their demands fulfilled.
The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has filed suit against the New

Castle, Pennsylvania Wal-Mart for unfair labor practices. It alleges that Wal-Mart

illegally discouraged workers of the Tire and Lube Express department from joining a

union. The NLRB also filed a suit against the Jacksonville, Texas Wal-Mart for unfair

labor practices. It alleges that Wal-Mart threatened meat cutters, interrogated them

regarding their union sympathies, and fired those who are pro-union. The United Food

and Commercial Workers Union filed a complaint with the NLRB alleging that two

workers were fired because of their union organizing activities. Following a vote in favor

of union representation by the butchers in Jacksonville, Texas, Wal-Mart announced that

meat cutting would end at 180 stores.

Wal-mart closed a Canadian store where about 200 workers were near winning

the first-ever union contract from the world's largest retailer. Wal-Mart fired these

workers not because the store was losing money but because the workers exercised their

right to join a union. Wal-Mart has decided it is above the law and that the only rules that

count are their rules.

Over the past 10 years, the NLRB or its administrative law judges have

determined in at least 11 cases that Wal-Mart or individual Wal-Mart stores were

engaging in unfair labor practices to prevent unionization. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. has paid

$31,680 in fines after the Department of Labor accused the company of violating child

labor laws at stores located in Hanover, Pennsylvania; and Pewaukee, Wisconsin.

As you see Wal-Mart has violated many workers rights to join a union. In

addition to violating these rights Wal-Mart acts as though it is above the law, and

continues to do the same. In my research I have found more dirt on Wal-Mart’s unethical
labor practices among other things. But in a world of big business, they keep on churning

out profits for its stockholders.