Thursday, January 13, 2005

Interesting Coincidences 

For a few months now, in between the "regular" Mal-Wart ads with the yellow smiley ball flying around knocking several cents off the price of foreign-made goods you didn't really need in the first place, have been heartwarming tales of hideously sick people, usually children, healed and made happy again because their parents worked at the said Mal-Wart, where everyone is not only insured but so well paid they can afford the premiums and co-pays on said insurance.

That, it seems, was just a warmup. Oh, and note the reward they get for running full-page ads about their own wonderfulness in most of the nation's major papers today: an extra heapin' helpin' of Free Media!

Chicago Trib
Wal-Mart Stores Inc., the world's largest retailer, and its chief executive, Lee Scott, went on the offensive Thursday against critics of its employment policies and the impact its stores have on communities where they are located.

The company took out more than 100 full-page newspaper ads Thursday, outlining the wages and benefits it pays its employees and the good the Bentonville-based company says it brings to communities.

Scott said he wants Wal-Mart overcome its reputation as a company that does not pay well and has minimal full-time workers.

"We want to get those myths off the table, set the record straight," Scott said in a phone interview from New York City where he was making a round of media interviews Thursday.
[major snip]
Scott said he planned meetings with a variety of groups not associated with government to help explain Wal-Mart's employment practices, environment-related policies and how it deals with its suppliers. He would not name the organizations, saying did not want the groups to feel they were being used to garner media attention.
Gee, you start to think. Maybe I have misjudged these wonderful people just because they wreck entire towns, entire industries, and donate heavily to Republicans...

Nope. You didn't misjudge at all. Let's see what might have prompted this schlock-and-drawl campaign....

(via Pittsburgh Post-Dispatch)

It took nearly five years of legal wrangling, but 15 workers in the auto services department at the Wal-Mart supercenter store in New Castle are getting an opportunity to vote on joining a union.

The National Labor Relations Board, in a case that has been pending since 2000, has scheduled an election for Feb. 11 to let employees of the store's Tire & Lube Express department decide whether to join the United Food and Commercial Workers union.

It is the only pending union-representation election at any Wal-Mart in the United States, according to the UFCW, which for years has unsuccessfully sought to represent Wal-Mart employees in stores across the country.

The New Castle election originally was scheduled for the summer of 2000 after the labor board ruled that the tire department workers were an appropriate voting unit.

Wal-Mart had argued that the vote should include the store's total work force of more than 400.

But the 2000 election was halted when the UFCW's Cleveland-based Local 880 filed unfair labor practice charges against Wal-Mart, alleging the giant retailer interfered with the election. The union alleged Wal-Mart executives from Arkansas descended on the store immediately after the election was scheduled and improved conditions for the auto service department workers.

The company installed new equipment and, the UFCW argued, engaged in surveillance of employees' union activities, interrogated them about their union sympathies and moved various employees in and out of the department to dilute support of the union. The allegations were settled by the board in an unpublished ruling late last year, paving the way for the next month's election.

Wal-Mart, which as part of the settlement was ordered to cease the offending practices and inform employees by posting notices in the store, declined to comment yesterday.
Oh, they commented all right. If you're in the New Castle area stop by and buy something automotive-related, and be sure to tell everybody that you're there because they're going union.

Or if you are of a more cynical bent, get wagers down now as to how long it will take for the lovely, caring Mal-Wart folks to shut down the automotive department of every store in the chain if this organizing effort is successful. It's what they did when the meatcutters in one store organized, and the reason you can only buy crappy pre-packaged meat there anymore.

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