South-Western - Management  
Wal-Mart Will Close a Store in Canada Amid Union Efforts
Topic Human Resources
Key Words Wal Mart, union negotiations, Canada
News Story 

Wal Mart Stores Inc. announced plans to close a Canadian store whose workers were seeking to be the first ever to win a union contract from the world's largest retailer. Wal Mart claims the store in Jonquiere, Quebec is losing money and that union demands would make it impossible to run the store profitably. The union had been certified last year after the UFCW (United Food and Commercial Workers) submitted union cards representing a majority of the store's 190 employees.

Wal Mart has vigorously fought efforts to unionize its stores across North America. In 1997, Ontario's Labor Board imposed union certification on a Windsor, Ontario Wal Mart after it found that the company had intimidated workers. Three years later, the store voted to decertify. In the U.S., a group of Wal Mart butchers voted to unionize in February of 2000. Several weeks later, the company announced that it would no longer use butchers in any of its stores, saying it would sell pre-packed beef instead.

The UFCW has been aggressively campaigning to unionize Wal Mart this past year, claiming victories in Jonquiere, which Wal Mart is now closing and in Saint-Hyacinthe, which Wal Mart is contesting. Wal Mart Canada operates 254 stores in Canada. The Jonquiere site is the first one Wal Mart has closed without relocating it since it entered the country in 1994.


Give three reasons why Wal Mart is anti-union.


What type of PR does Wal Mart get from their actions in the labor cases cited? Do some further reading about the retail giant. What are they doing to contest their negative image as portrayed by the media?

Source "Wal-Mart Will Close a Store in Canada Amid Union Efforts," The Wall Street Journal, Feb.10, 2005, p.A2.
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