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Walmart Wins Canadian Supreme Court Ruling to Keep out Unions

abstract: In 2004 the employees of the Jonquiere Walmart store located 470 kilometers (290 miles) north of Montreal successfully organized and joined the United Food and Commercial Workers, or UFCW. Walmart famously does not allow its employees to unionize. Like other locations before this in the US, Walmart closed the store the minute union activity was initiated. In 2005 the workers sued Walmart and won their case on the grounds that closing the store violated their freedom of association rights guaranteed by Canada’s constitution. They were the first store North America-wide that had successfully won their case against the mega retailer. But Walmart fought back with a petition to the Supreme Court of Canada, who in examining the case overturned the ruling 6-3, saying that Walmart proved its reasons for closing the store were valid. The Canadian Chamber of Commerce sided with Bentonville, Arkansas-based Walmart, arguing that businesses ought to retain the freedom to make operating decisions. President Ken Georgetti of the Canadian Labour Congress (CLL) says this effectively hamstrings 100 workers at more than 300 stores across Canada. One can imagine Walmart in his crosshairs today, and it will be interesting to see what happens elsewhere in Canada. I first became aware of the pros and cons of the Walmart giant in a book Nelson Lichtenstien wrote titled, The Wal-Mart Effect: How the World's Most Powerful Company Really Works-and How It's Transforming the American Economy that detailed the employee practices as well as the no-inventory policy which forces suppliers into just in time deadlines to meet Walmart's high-volume, low profit customer expectations. If you want to understand how founder Sam Walton's store became the largest retailer chain in America, and how his Christian-values successor, Soderquist made it onto the top Fortune 500 companies with revenues in excess of $200 billion, then read The Wal-Mart Way: The Inside Story of the Success of the World's Largest Company (240 pgs, 2nd edition, Thomas Nelson Publisher, 2005) -Photo Credit:


November 30, 2009

Further Links

Bloomberg report on the Supreme Court Ruling by Tiffany Kary and Alexandre Deslongchamps, Nov 27, 2009

The Wal-Mart Effect: How the World's Most Powerful Company Really Works--and How It's Transforming the American Economy The "Wal-Mart effect" has become a common phrase in the vocabulary of economists and includes a broad range of effects, such as forcing local competitors out of business, driving down wages, and keeping inflation low and productivity high. On a global scale, Wal-Mart's relentless commitment to "everyday low prices" has had a massive impact on the trend toward importing from countries like China and the resultant loss of manufacturing jobs here. Because of its strict policy on secrecy, surprisingly little is known about the inside workings of the largest corporation ever in the U.S and now the world. Although much has been written before on the legendary story of Sam Walton, Fishman finally takes us inside the carefully guarded workings of the "Wal-Mart ecosystem," where management surrender their lives and families, working 12 hours a day, six days a week, in a near-holy quest toward the never-ending goal of lower prices. He brings to light the serious repercussions that are occurring as consumers and suppliers have become locked in an addiction to massive sales of cheaper and cheaper goods. David Siegfried Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

The Wal-Mart Way: The Inside Story of the Success of the World's Largest Company (240 pgs, 2nd edition, Thomas Nelson Publisher, 2005)

Low-Wage Capitalism: Colossus with Feet of Clay (338 pg, World View Forum, Sept 2009) Through an examination of current corporate practices, historical evidence, and Marxist theories, this critique reveals the direct correlation between new technologies, globalization, and the dramatic drop in worker wages worldwide and proposes alternatives for dealing with the crisis. The narrative traces the advances in production, communications, and transportation that have enabled transnational companies—such as Dell Computer, the “Big Three” U.S. auto companies, IBM, Liz Claiborne, and Boeing—to outsource to many diverse suppliers in numerous countries to make a single product. As a result of this global outsourcing, workers are no longer competing with others within their city, state, or country but with those thousands of miles away and have in essence entered into a worldwide wage competition that consistently lowers the wage floor. Compounding the crippling effects of these practices is the near doubling of the global workforce resulting from the collapse of the USSR and Eastern Europe’s political systems. Using Karl Marx’s law of wages and other findings, the chronicle maintains that these developments will not only continue to drive down wages but lead to a profound revival of working class struggle. This analysis argues that the only way to reverse these trends is to implement various strategies to fight back, especially regarding the labor-community alliance and class-wide strategies for struggle.



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