WalMart is a United States transnational retailer that runs several stores across the country as well as in 27 other different countries. It is the world's largest company by revenue as well as being the largest private employer with an estimated 2.2 million workers. For at least twenty years, the Service Employees Internal Union, the Food and Commercial Workers Union and United Automobile Workers have put in a lot of effort albeit fruitlessly attempting to coordinate the employees at WalMart. Criticism has been aimed at the giant retailer on their tactic of undermining unions which contravene the National Labor Relations Act. The act essentially accords employees the liberty to establish and participate in unions. The attempt to organize WalMart's labor force into a worker's union has been a long and arduous one spreading over decades but has failed in an endeavor to address workplace issues.
WalMart has been in the spotlight many times over its strategy in opposition to labor unions. The staff's hesitance to join the labor union was brought about by the company's anti-union hard-line stance evidenced by actions like managerial monitoring and anticipatory shutdown of stores or departments that chose to unionize. However, WalMart has argued that it is not anti-union but pro-associate pointing out that its workers do not require the use of third parties to address concerns and grievances with the administration as their open-door policy facilitates dialogue. The National Labour Relations Act of the Wagner Act of 1935 was put in place by Congress to defend employees' freedom to unionization (Koca-Helvaci, 2015). Labor laws provide for the liberty to unionize and forbid/permits employers and employees to participate in walkouts, demonstrations, and lockouts for the primary objective of having their requisitions taken into account.
There have been numerous attempts at forming unions over the years; efforts which have proved futile. Looking back in time; in 1970, WalMart's late founding father Sam Walton repelled a unionization drive put in motion by the Retail Clerks International Union in two Missouri townships by acquiring the services of an adept union buster to lead an anti-union crusade. Working on the union buster's counsel, Walton also took measures to show his staff how the organization had their general well-being in mind, urging them to address their complaints with managers and putting into effect a profit-sharing program. Several years later, WalMart sought the services of a consulting firm, Alpha Associates, to create a union avoidance program (Greenhouse, 2015).
In 2000, butchers in Jacksonville, Texas acquiesced to unionize. WalMart later did away with in-house meat-cutting tasks in support of prepackaged meat, alleging that the decision taken would reduce operational costs and avert lawsuits. Additionally, the retail organization also stated that the countrywide shut down of in-store meat packaging had been intended over time and was associated with the unionization attempt. A couple of years later, a National Labour Relations Board jury ordered WalMart to revive the meat department to its previous capacity and to acknowledge and negotiate with the federation over the consequence of any modification to case-ready meat trading (Greenhouse, 2015). WalMart's anti-union procedures are evident in other countries. Successful unionization of a WalMart shop in Quebec, Canada resulted in the closure of the store barely five months later because the company did not endorse their business plan a union would need.
Over the past two decades, the National Labour Relations Board and administrative law judges have ruled in at least 11 cases where WalMart and affiliated branches were found guilty of taking part in illegal labor practices to hinder unionization. The retail store paid $31,680 as a fine after the Labor Department charged the company with a breach of child labor laws at their stores situated in Hanover, Pennsylvania and Pewaukee, Wisconsin. What is more, a WalMart executive Tom Coughlin was compelled to quit from the Director's Board as he was facing charges of theft. Coughlin's testimony was that the money was utilized as an anti-union scheme that involved pay-offs to the staff of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union in return for a roster of WalMart workers who had signed union cards. He was found guilty of stealing money, products, and gift cards from WalMart and was sentenced to five years' probation coupled with a $50,000 fine and $411,000 in reparation to WalMart and the IRS (Arnold, 2016).
WalMart has also had several disagreements with the German labor union too. These difficulties coupled with cultural contrasts and underperformance of various stores resulted in the retail store leaving the German market in 2006. There have been numerous attempts at demonstrations in recent years most notably in 2012 when several WalMart employees joined hands with a Commercial Workers union to protest against an increase in health cover and low pay on Black Friday. Additionally, their grievances also pointed to the denial of being given a break on Thanksgiving Day. According to (Rosca, 2018), the company rebuffed these claims by stating that the strike was unlawful as the company did not endorse the union that was enjoined in the protests, and the striking members are a small proportion of the organization's personnel. They further added that the more significant majority of the staff was docile and available to work through the busiest of days.
As discussed in the essay, WalMart has infringed on many employees rights to form a union and actively participate in it. Apart from transgressing on the liberty of their staff, the retail store has engaged in some other unethical practices such as the use of threats and shutting down stores impromptu to assert their dominance over workers. There have been instances where workers have been illegally dismissed and disciplined over their participation in strikes and protests.
Arnold, D. G. (2016). Corporations and human rights obligations. Business and Human Rights Journal, 1(2), 255-275.
Greenhouse, S. (2015). How America's Largest Employer Persuades Its Workers Not to Unionize. Retrieved from https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2015/06/how-walmart-convinces-its-employees-not-to-unionize/395051/
Koca-Helvaci, Z. C. (2015). Walmart and its employee relations: organizational stance-taking and legitimacy. On the Horizon, 23(4), 374-386.Rosca, P. C. (2018). Contemporary Criticism of Corporate Behaviour.
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