As UFCW Attempts DC Walmart Shutdown, Canadian Local Bolts

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United Food and Commercial Workers groups push DC’s Mayor Gray to sign a bill effectively banning Walmart, while stores in Canada decertify the UFCW.Canadas newly UFCW-free Walmart in Weyburn

As we’ve detailed before, the UFCW has long had Walmart in their sights. From threatening to shut down stores on the busiest day of the year to launching visceral verbal attacks, the UFCW will stop at nothing to stop the giant. Even when it includes passing prohibitive legislation preventing the company from creating jobs in an economically devastated area.

In a previous article, we detailed the ridiculous demands of RespectDC, the UFCW-backed group working to stop Walmart from expanding into DC. The group demanded Walmart pay “living wages” ($12.50/hour) and called Walmart’s wages “slave wages” ($12.49/hour, average in the area). They also claimed Walmart would hurt the community, despite evidence and studies to the contrary.

But despite the lack of evidence on their side, RespectDC managed to get legislation passed in the DC City Council that would create such high demands for Walmart that they would not be able to stay afloat. The Nation describes the situation now facing the Mayor:

Four weeks after the Washington, DC, City Council passed a bill to hike some retail workers’ wages, DC Mayor Vince Gray has not yet indicated whether he will let it become law. The measure, the Large Retailer Accountability Act, has drawn fierce opposition from Walmart..
The LRAA would require “large retailers”—defined by the square footage of their stores and the revenue of their parent companies—to pay employees at least $12.50 per hour in combined wages and benefits. In a Washington Post op-ed published the day before the council vote, Walmart Regional General Manager Alex Barron warned that the law “would clearly inject unforeseen costs into the equation that would create an uneven playing field and challenge the fiscal health of our planned D.C. stores.”

Meanwhile, RespectDC and their allies are still very actively monitoring the situation. They’re using their funds to pour more and more effort into pressuring the Mayor. They’re pulling every stop they can to manufacture support for the bill. According to one email sent out by their ally, RespectDC is canvassing neighborhoods to generate support:

The canvass in Ward 7 led by Respect DC has been extremely successful: 9 out of 10 people whom canvassers talk with support the bill and sign the petition. Many call the mayor on the spot. Please join a canvass. Respect DC will train you and provide you with a partner to go door to door and talk with people at Metro stations, grocery stores, and community events.

Finally, Respect DC and Faith Strategies are working with Councilmembers Vincent Orange and Phil Mendelson to plan a big event to demonstrate to the mayor how much DC residents and workers need this bill.

In the United States, Walmart is consistently non-union. This is why the company presents such a large target. If the UFCW were able to get a foothold into the company in the U.S., they could use that to try and pressure more of the company to unionize. That would be a very effective way to gain a lot of new members for the union, even as they slowly lose chapters from other companies.

Meanwhile in Canada, there are Walmart associates that are already unionized by the UFCW. And the UFCW should be taking notice of what’s happening there – one store in Weyburn just voted to decertify the union! And this wasn’t even a close vote either – the decertification was decided with a vote of 51-5. The story should sound familiar at this point:

A series of unfair labour applications were brought to the Court of Appeals by the UFCW.
The matters they addressed recently were: unlawful communications to employees, failure to bargain collectively, failure to provide employee information, failure to abide by closed shop obligations and failure to bargain collectively.
The UFCW alleged that Wal-Mart had unfair communications to employees from the period following certification on Dec. 4, 2008 until the date of their allegation, Nov. 8, 2010.
The Labour Board reviewed those communications and found that they were “responsive to significant developments affecting in the workplace that were factual.” The Court of Appeal found those findings to be reasonable and dismissed the union’s appeal for the unfair communications.

Unfortunately, for some employers, this sounds all too familiar. The UFCW comes up with trumped-up complaints, sneaks in the door. They then under-serve their members, and make a big stink when asked to leave.

For all of the rhetoric by the UFCW about the minimum wage and supporting jobs, none of that ever seems to apply in practice. They want to stop jobs from coming to an economically disadvantaged area and create impossible standards so nobody can get paid.

The UFCW is like a dog chasing its tail – the union is entirely unsure of what to do with Walmart if it were to catch it. If the Canadian defection shows anything, the UFCW is far better at chasing future potential members than keeping current members happy.