Wal-Mart’s war against workers has reached a new low, based on information published in Friday’s Wall Street Journal. The newspaper not only reports that “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,” but that the managers running these meetings “make it clear that voting for Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Barack Obama would be tantamount to inviting unions in.”
There is no clearer reason for an Employee Free Choice Act than this, the ability of a corporation like Wal-Mart to abuse its power to not only intimidate its workers but to actually attempt to sway a presidential election during mandatory employee meetings—even if it means skirting or breaking laws against electioneering in the workplace.
Wal-Mart Watch has issued a strong statement denouncing the tactics outlined in the Journal story:
Today’s Wall Street Journal story demonstrates once again that Wal-Mart intimidates its workers. Whether it is locking them in the company’s stores, pressuring them to keep working even after they have clocked out, or giving them “instruction” about their vote, Wal-Mart has consistently exhibited unique examples of unethical behavior that often raise legal questions.
“We have been receiving the reports described in the Journal for the past week. Some of the reports we received were even more egregious than what was described in today’s story. In one case, a worker said they were shown a slide that said “Obama = union” and then were told why unions were bad.
“The stories cited in the Journal are consistent with the numerous stories we hear from employees across the nation every day about Wal-Mart’s intimidation tactics. All of these tactics seem to be designed to keep workers from demanding better wages, decent benefits or fairer working conditions. Wal-Mart seems willing to do anything to maintain a status quo in which the company pays poorly, refuses to compensate workers for time worked, discriminates against workers and offers poor benefits.
But this isn’t just about Wal-Mart. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and other business groups are pouring millions of dollars into a fundamentally dishonest campaign that portrays unions as political bosses out to shaft workers, when in fact it is businesses like Wal-Mart, enabled by a criminally negligent National Labor Relations Board, that are the real bad actors who have done widespread damage to the well-being of millions of workers.
This underscores the urgency of disseminating the Making Sense material we published recently on the Employee Free Choice Act, which outlines the stakes for workers. These are points that need to be forcefully pushed in the coming weeks. Wal-Mart has pulled out all the stops to make sure that workers do not have the ability to fight for better wages and working conditions. We need to pull out all the stops ourselves.