Walmart staves off unionization attempts in its stores by telling workers who ask about forming a union that theyÂ may lose benefits and vacation time, a potential violation of American labor law that could further inflame relations between the company and workers who picketed its stores on Black Friday and have been attempting to organize.
Walmart workers and labor advocatesÂ held protestsÂ outside the chainâs stores throughout Thanksgiving weekend, protesting theÂ low wagesÂ it pays its workers. The company, which paid its chief executive $18.1 million and made $15 billion in profits last year, has fought off union attempts before, and now it tells its workers that unionization could lead to the loss of bonuses and vacation time, a spokesperson told Bloomberg BusinessWeek:
Walmart has been opposed to unions since Sam Walton opened his first store in Rogers, Ark., in 1962. These days, âwe have human resources teams all over the country who are available to talk to associates, and we will get questions about joining a union,â says David Tovar, a spokesman for the company.Â âWe would say: âLet us remind you of all that Walmart offers, and of what might go away. Quarterly bonuses might go away, vacation time might go away.â?â
Such tacticsÂ may not be illegalÂ by themselves because they can be seen as predicting outcomes rather than threatening them, The Nationâs Josh Eidelson reported today. But the implication of such a âpredictionâ â that joining a union could be followed by actions resembling retaliation â is quite clear. Walmartâs anti-labor practices arenât new: in 2008, the storeâs workers spoke out about anti-union meetings they wereÂ forced to attend.
Though Walmart has long fought organization efforts in the United States, it sometimes letsworkers in other countriesÂ unionize â particularly when unionization is contingent on Walmart getting to enter a new country. In the U.S. though, it has responded to unionization efforts byshutting down departments, fighting legislativeÂ improvements to labor law, and now, telling workers that joining a union may cost them their bonus.
This post was originally posted on December 17, 2012 on ThinkProgress. Reprinted with Permission.
About the Author: Travis Waldron isÂ a reporter/blogger for ThinkProgress.org at the Center for American Progress Action Fund. Travis grew up in Louisville, Kentucky, and holds a BA in journalism and political science from the University of Kentucky. Before coming to ThinkProgress, he worked as a press aide at the Health Information Center and as a staffer on Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conwayâs 2010 Senate campaign. He also interned at National Journalâs Hotline and was a sports writer and political columnist at the Kentucky Kernel, the University of Kentuckyâs daily student newspaper.