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2000-02-22
Jacksonville, TX. Wal-Mart Workers Elect Union

"I have always believed," wrote Sam Walton, "that we don't need unions at Wal-Mart." That is apparently not a view shared by some Wal-Mart workers in the meat department of a Wal-Mart supercenter in Jacksonville, Texas. According to the United Food and Commercial Workers, the meat department voted 7 to 3 to join Local 540 of the UFCW, becoming the first U.S. workers to vote in a union. In Canada, Wal-Mart workers have voted for a union, but Jacksonville is the first U.S. location for such a vote. "This victory could open the floodgates of pent up worker frustration at the abusive treatment, low pay, and lousy benefits at Wal-Mart," said UFCW President Doug Dority. The union President called the Jacksonville election "the vote heard round the world", since Wal-Mart is an international company with hundreds of stores in foreign countries. The union says that Wal-Mart went to great lengths to try and sway the meat department "associates" their way, including trying to "stack" the meat department with anti-union workers. The Jacksonville vote could prove to be like a virus let loose inside the Wal-Mart culture, as workers in the meat and seafood department at a Wal-Mart supercenter in Palestine, Texas have filed a petition for a union election also.

What you can do: When workers began organizing for a union in Windsor, Ontario, a Canadian court ruled that Wal-Mart broke the law during the organizing campaign. The court concluded that Wal-Mart intimidated workers by failing to answer their questions about whether the store would remain open if it were unionized. "Wal-Mart interfered with the employee's free choice," said the United Steelworkers of America. "Wal-Mart's actions tainted the vote in such a way that instead of asking whether the employees wanted a union, they were being asked if they wanted a job." In Jacksonville, the UFCW says that Wal-Mart required the workers to meet with management for half hour "mandatory audience" sessions, in which Wal-Mart paid employees for 4 hours in an attempt to sway loyalty. Wal-Mart is now required to enter into good-faith negotiations following a union election. The company which has boasted it is "non union" not "anti-union", now has a union to contend with. Wal-Mart is the largest private employee in America.










 
 
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