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2005-04-30
Jonquiere, Que. Wal-Mart Shuts Store, Lays Off 200 Workers

They'd rather have no store, than a unionized store. That seems to sum up Wal-Mart's antagonism against organized labor. If workers get too strong, shut down the store. The giant retailer was in such a rush to shut down its first unionized store in Canada, that it closed its doors a week early. In the process, 200 of its workers now have no jobs. Wal-Mart says "respect for the individual" is its employer mantra, but the 200 individuals now out of work may wonder what happened to respect at their store. Wal-Mart surely did not respect the wishes of at least 50% of their workers who signed union cards for better wages and benefits, which prompted the workers to push for a union to represent them. The Jonquiere store shut its doors this week, before the planned date of May 6 because it no longer had any merchandise, said Wal-Mart Canada. In a magnanimous gesture, Wal-Mart gave its workers half a day off, and pay for next week. According to Bloomberg News, Wal-Mart is facing union activity in 25 other locations across Canada. Wal-Mart claimed the Jonquiere store was underperforming, and that union demands would have increased the company's cost of doing business (like paying its people a decent wage for once) and so it closed the store instead of having to raise its workers' wages, or give them a reasonable health plan.``The business is done,'' said a Wal-Mart spokesman. Another Wal-Mart store in St. Hyacinthe, Quebec, is the only unionized Wal-Mart left in North America. Employees at there are still operating without a contract.

What you can do: Jonquiere adds another dead Wal-Mart to their list of 356 empty stores now available from Wal-Mart Realty. This store's vacancy is somewhat unusual, and as long as it stands empty it will symbolize Wal-Mart's empty promises to its workers. Any company that would rather shut down its operations than deal with the desire of its workers to speak with an organized voice, is certainly not a company that values its labor. It's hard to reconcile how this company could call its workers "associates," and yet treat them like a water faucet to be turned on and off at will. Wal-Mart put its profit before its people, and in this case, walked out on 200 "associates" to make a point to the union, and, I hope, to the consumer about the ethics at this corporation.










 
 
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