Wal-Mart to Employees: Don't Vote for Democrats
Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is mobilizing its store managers and department supervisors around the country to warn that if Democrats win power in November, they'll likely change federal law to make it easier for workers to unionize companies -- including Wal-Mart.
In recent weeks, thousands of Wal-Mart store managers and department heads have been summoned to mandatory meetings at which the retailer stresses the downside for workers if stores were to be unionized.
What are they worried about, exactly?
It seems to boil down to this: they're very, very worried that the Employee Free Choice Act (otherwise known as "card check") will pass, and that this will make it easier to organize unions in Wal-Mart stores. Just yesterday I was writing with some skepticism that this legislation might not live up to its proponents' claims, but maybe I was wrong, and it will turn out to be more effective than I thought. And maybe the Dems pose more of a threat to the economic powers that be than I often think they do. Also, I must say, sentences like the following put a spring in my step and a song in my heart:
The actions by Wal-Mart -- the nation's largest private employer -- reflect a growing concern among big business that a reinvigorated labor movement could reverse years of declining union membership.
As the article documents, it's not just Wal-Mart that's up in arms over card check -- the entire business community is very, very concerned as well. They're putting big bucks behind the effort to torpedo this legislation. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is part of the anti-card check campaign, and I practically did a spit take reading what their spokesman had to say about it: "This is a David-and-Goliath confrontation, but we believe we'll have enough stones in the sling to knock this out."
There's plenty of other great stuff in the article as well. For one thing -- oopsy! -- it looks like those politically oriented meetings with employees may be against the law:
Wal-Mart may be walking a fine legal line by holding meetings with its store department heads that link politics with a strong antiunion message. Federal election rules permit companies to advocate for specific political candidates to its executives, stockholders and salaried managers, but not to hourly employees. While store managers are on salary, department supervisors are hourly workers.
A Wal-Mart spokesman denies that employees were being told how to vote:
"If anyone representing Wal-Mart gave the impression we were telling associates how to vote, they were wrong and acting without approval," said David Tovar, Wal-Mart spokesman. Mr. Tovar acknowledged that the meetings were taking place for store managers and supervisors nationwide.
Sounds good -- except:
"The meeting leader said, 'I am not telling you how to vote, but if the Democrats win, this bill will pass and you won't have a vote on whether you want a union,'" said a Wal-Mart customer-service supervisor from Missouri. "I am not a stupid person. They were telling me how to vote," she said.
Anyway, as they say, read the whole thing.