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Thread: Wal-Mart close unionized car center in Gatineau: lack of respect!

  1. #1
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    Angry Wal-Mart close unionized car center in Gatineau: lack of respect!

    Hi all.

    Wal-Mart show again how little respect it have for it's employees. A decision was just made to close the Car Center in it's Gatineau, QC. store. The employees got their union accreditation not long ago, after a fight with Wal-Mart. Now, the same way as in Saguenay before, they close the place!

    I'm not a pro-union but, when a choice is made by the employees and legally accepted by the government, they should just respect that choice and live with it. Usually, when there's a union entering a shop, there's a reason for it. If Wal-mart would treat employees that good, nobody would think about a union.

    Personally, I've been boycotting Wal-Mart since the Saguenay incident. Yes, I sometimes have to pay a little more for some things (not that often! The Wal-Mart being always cheaper is a myth) but, given a choice, I'd rather not give any money to somebody who just don't get it when it comes to labor relations. If more peoples would do the same an me, maybe workers could get some respect.
    Last edited by metoo4; 10-16-2008 at 01:42 PM.

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by metoo4
    Hi all.

    Wal-Mart show again how little respect it have for it's employees. A decision was just made to close the Car Center in it's Gatineau, QC. store. The employees got their union accreditation not long ago, after a fight with Wal-Mart. Now, the same way as in Saguenay before, they close the place!

    I'm not a pro-union but, when a choice is made by the employees and legally accepted by the government, they should just respect that choice and live with it. Usually, when there's a union entering a shop, there's a reason for it. If Wal-mart would treat employees that good, nobody would think about a union.

    Personally, I've been boycotting Wal-Mart since the Saguenay incident. Yes, I sometimes have to pay a little more for some things (not that often! The Wal-Mart being always cheaper is a myth) but, given a choice, I'd rather not give any money to somebody who just don't get it when it comes to labor relations. If more peoples would do the same an me, maybe workers could get some respect.
    Hello Metoo4,

    In one of my jobs I am a de facto union worker. Most union workers I know are not crazy about the union. There are many complaints about how effective it is and the dues they pay. So being in a union is usually not a desirable choice, but the company pushes employees that way by making foolish and harsh decisions that make it much tougher for workers. So you are right. If employees choose to unionize there's usually a strong reason.

    Cheers,

    Korbel
    Korbie: of the Boston Red Sox Nation...the NBA Champion Boston Celtics Pride...and...the New England Patriots Dynasty!

  3. #3
    From an ethical perspective Walmart is acting very poorly... BUT from a business perspective, with the goal of increasing shareholder wealth, they are doing the exact right thing.

    Walmart knows that if even one store unionizes successfully (and they leave the store open) that it will be the beginning of unionization across all stores. If this happens it WILL cost Walmart TENS of BILLIONS of DOLLARS in wage hikes, benefits, etc.

    Therefore I think their position is quite understandable, though many may not agree with it.

    I avoid Walmart because I can't stand the parking lots, the crowds, the waiting, the lack of help, the kids running around and the crap everywhere. Not because I'm a union supporter.

    BD

  4. #4
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    In another thread, there was a discussion about savage capitalism. IMHO, that's exactly what Wal-Mart is doing: making the rich (shareholders) richer and the poor (employees) poorer. What Wal-Mart shows is a total lack of social conscience. So what if shareholders make 1-2% less profit? If this profit is made on the back of the peoples who bring you that wealth, anybody with a social conscience should be able to stand-up and say they'll pass on this small difference.

    A spokeperson from Wal-Mart was saying on the radio that, with the raise employees gained (about 30%, still less than comparable salary elsewhere in the same market) Wal-Mart would need to raise it's rates to customers by 30% also. That's bullshit! The parts costs the same, the building cost the same, heating/cooling cost the same, insurances cost the same, city taxes are the same... It's maybe 10% that Wal-Mart could see as an increase in their costs so, saying their costs will go up by the same amount the employees had as a raise is insulting the employees and customer's intelligence. Wal-Mart should just shut-up, or even use this a a publicity stunt saying they care about employees and they prove it by keeping the center open! But no, they decided to go the USA route and impose their laws.

    I certainly hope the Labor Board will look at this and force Wal-Mart to revise this decision while giving them a "salty" penalty.

    At this time, they're not firing the employees, they're "offering to relocate them elsewhere within the company". They have till tomorrow to take a decision, if I understand. Of course, the union accreditation won't follow these relocated employees... What a backdoor way to dismantle the union, right?

  5. #5
    metoo -- Walmart most likely has a larger legal team than the government of Canada.

    Walmart's annual sales are around 350 BILLION (US) dollars currently.

    Nobody is going to beat them in court.

    They could close all their stores in Canada without batting an eye if they had a good enough reason to do so.

    BD

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by metoo4
    I certainly hope the Labor Board will look at this and force Wal-Mart to revise this decision while giving them a "salty" penalty.
    What would the Labour Board do? Force them to reopen the car centre? If we get to the point where a business owner cannot close his business for whatever damn reason he wants, you might as well say goodbye to any new business in Quebec. The Gatineau shoppers will then make the trek to Ottawa for shopping; they'll pay Ontario sales tax, Wal-mart will pay corporate income tax to Ontario, and Quebecers lose.

  7. #7
    Mazingerz,

    If unions produce happy workers and happy workers produce more (per you) then how do you explain the situation with the AAW union?

    - They aren't happy
    - They don't produce more
    - The companies they work for are losing money and have been for years

    Also, GM will probably never get out from under the massive pension fund and health care benefits they need to support due to caving to union demands over the years. Currently their pension obligation (which if you can believe it has been revised DOWN) sits at over $85 BILLION.

    I would have thought that you would be happy to have the evil American Walmart out of Quebec. Or, did you forget your isolationist/separatist policies when Walmart "rolled back the prices" for you.

    BD

  8. #8
    If the National Assembly of Quebec had some common sense, they'd repeal the anti-strike-breaker provisions in the Labour Code and eliminate the Rand formula. Maybe then employers wouldn't have to fight the unions so hard.

  9. #9
    Employees have the right to choose who they work for and unionize if they want and companies have the right to open and close stores. And consumers certainly have the right to boycott.

    Labour is a significant portion of a retail stores operating costs and if they go up 30% then perhaps the operation is no longer profitable.

    I'm not sure why everything involving unions and labour is always a matter of respect. It's not respect, it's dollars and cents for the employer, the union and the employees.

    Why did people choose to work there if they thought the wages were unfair. Walmart would have to raise their wage levels (and presumeably their prices) if no one wanted to work for them at the rates they were offering. Isn't this more straight forward than accepting a job and then calling in a union ?

    I have 700 people working for me in 3 factories of which 200 ( 1 factory)are unionized. I have negotiated contracts with unions and I hear this respect thing a lot. It makes me want to puke. If the employees just knew how little respect the union leaders have for them they would be shocked. If any one has 30 minutes I can tell you the stories.

    A brief one: I once settled a brief strike for exactly the same offer plus 1 extra floating holiday ( cost of less than 0.4 %) as our very first offer a month before the strike. It just so happens it was settled at the same time as the union local's strike pay pool ran out and the union head office would have been required to start chipping in. When I asked the Union leader (union head office) what the hell he was doing and why he had called a strike for that he told me that the odd strike is good for the rank and file - it makes them think the union is fighting hard for them. I felt like strangling the guy. The employees had lost 2 weeks pay or 4% to gain 0.4%.

    Out of principal I pay employees in the non-unionized plants more money because the overall costs are always less. This is due to greater efficiency and less extra costs such as paid time off for union activities, less light duty time etc. etc etc. So I keep 20% of the savings for the company and give the employees the rest. As a result individual employees make about 10% more per hour.

    Now the retail industry is notoriously low paying and WalMart generally just sells imported junk anyway so I have no reason to support them except to say they are one company that will provide some extra income to those poor over 65 geezers who probably need it to avoid eating cat food.

    Just don't give me this "it's about respect crap".

  10. #10
    Can't disagree with that Possum...

    It's often those who cry out most about respect that have the least respect for others themselves.

    BD

  11. #11
    While Wall Mart is not in business to save the world, there are far worse behaved corporations than them. Studies have shown that their clientele save significant amounts of money on groceries etc.

    It's clear that they and McDonald's will do everything they can to avoid the unionization of their workers. However, unions have been known to exert considerable pressure, including violence, to force all employees of an enterprise to join them.

    When I was an employee, I saw sexual harassers, drunks, the untalented and unmotivated have their jobs protected by unions. Unions often try to negotiate salaries based on seniority rather than output. I see no evidence that unionized employees are more productive.

  12. #12
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    Unions are bad when they are allowed to grow too strong. This can happen when the leaders get greedy and the employer caves-in too easily. What need to be done is the union leaders must sit with employees and figure-out what would be required to enhance the work conditions. Then, he should sit with the employer and see what's possible and relay the info to employees. Nowadays, with big unions, it's no longer negotiations, it's almost ultimatums!

    Construction in Québec is a perfect example: somebody who can barely write his name can make close to $30/hr. Or the Montréal Seaport, where nobody makes less than $20 and the average scolarity of the employees working the docks is a grade 12. Machinery drivers, who sit on their ass all day in a vehicle, make over $30/hr and have basically no recurrent training requirement: a fork lift today will be a forklift in 5 years and will work the same. What justify $30+/hr there? Now, these are examples of situations where unions are too strong.

    With good unions, money isn't the only thing: schedule management, vacations, overtime management, just to name a few, are a big part of the picture. It's not only money that makes peoples happy, it's the general work environment.

    Some companies will never need to get unionized, simply because the employer understand how to make employees happy. I know peoples who are paid a little less than they could elsewhere but still, they wouldn't go work elsewhere anyway because they FEEL GOOD where they are.

    I've worked in unionized companies before and believe me, when the employer want to fire somebody who's not doing the work, they can. All that's needed is documentation and a few warnings and it's a done deal. I've seen it done and, within 2-3 months max, it was over.

    AnonV, it's not that UNIONIZED employees are more productive, it's HAPPY employees that are more productive. Often a union is required because that's the only way the employer will listen to the employees, therefore making these unionized employees happier. As I said, a union isn't always required if the employers and employees can discuss on a 2 way street.
    Last edited by metoo4; 10-16-2008 at 08:27 PM.

  13. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by metoo4
    So what if shareholders make 1-2% less profit?
    From Wikipedia: "For the fiscal year ending January 31, 2006, Wal-Mart reported a net income of $12 billion on $340 billion of sales revenue (3.5% profit margin)."


    So out of $340 revenue, they had (340-12)= $328 billion in costs. If their costs go up even a tiny percentage, they are out of business.

    On a personal note, I've always wondered about the high mark-up that retailers charge on clothing. Recently, I had to make an in-depth analysis of a retail operation for professional reasons. I was shocked at the high costs they face. I now have a whole new understanding of their pricing.

    If you think retailers are making a killing, I encourage you to open a store yourself and find out.

  14. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by Ben Dover
    F BUT from a business perspective, with the goal of increasing shareholder wealth, they are doing the exact right thing.

    BD
    ALL I CAN SAY IS

    http://www.laborresearch.org/print.php?id=391

    DM

  15. #15
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    I wonder why this seems to happen only to Walmarts that are located in the province of Quebec. Just a coincidence?

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