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Wal-Mart’s Continued Assault on the Rights of Workers

Wal-Mart’s continued campaign of punishing workers who exercise their fundamental and constitutional right to join a union has raised its ugly head yet again.  This time, Wal-Mart has announced it is closing the garage shop where 9 employees in Quebec joined a union and were awarded a collective agreement settlement that included a raise from $9.25 per hour to $15.94 per hour over a couple of years.  We discussed how that collective agreement came about  in an earlier entry.  Wal-Mart says it is offering the workers jobs at other stores, but those jobs will be at the much lower, non-union rate.  And the message of Wal-Mart remains very clear to those, and all other employees:  join a union, and we will close the store, so in fact you have no effective right to collective bargaining here.  

Wal-Mart claimed that if it had to comply with the collective agreement, prices would need to be raised by 30%.  This is nonsense, of course, since Wal-Mart earns profits in the hundreds of billions of dollars per year.   It could easily absorb a wage increase for 9 employees at one store without passing on that expense to consumers.   Expect a new unfair labour practice complaint to be filed by the UFCW challenging whether it is illegal to close a part of a store to avoid complying with the collective agreement.   That case would raise some similar arguments to those already on their way to Supreme Court relating to the last time Wal-Mart closed a store and fired all of  its unionized employees in Quebec.

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