Housing Complex

Walmart: We Aren’t Unionized Because Workers Don’t Want Unions

This morning, I sat down with Steve Restivo, communications director for Walmart's Northeast region. We talked of many things, most of which I'll save for a forthcoming cover story, but I thought I'd share this one general bit about why there are no unions at Walmart stores.

The clean-cut Walmart PR guy look.

I realize that some other grocery chains in D.C. are also non-union. But for an employer facing a lot of skepticism, it would seem like allowing employees to unionize if they chose would ease your entry into this market. If you say that your wages and benefits are competitive with those offered by other grocery chains anyway, why not allow them union representation?

Because I think our associates, time and again, have recognized that it's not a better deal for them. I think we've got a pretty good track record, and I can point to some examples, where our associates have turned down the opportunity to join a union, time and time again. I mean, the organizing effort is fairly aggressive. We have a clear and open line of communication with our associates. Our associates recognize that they appreciate that, and they know that the wages and benefits they receive are extremely competitive in the industry.

But why not allow staff in each store to make that choice for themselves?

I don't know why you think it's not offered.

Well, I'm thinking in particular of a a recent posting for a labor relations position that makes it pretty clear that fighting unions is part of the job description.

I would go back to the point too that the overwhelming majority of retailers here in DC, across the country, are not unionized businesses. And as you point out, there are several grocers here that are not union grocers. So the same question should probably be asked of all of those businesses.

Picture of Restivo via this blog.

Comments

  1. #1

    Well, of course Wal-Mart employees "have turned down the opportunity to join a union, time and time again". The first Wal-Mart employees to successfully unionize were the butchers in a Jacksonville, Texas, store in 2000, and in response Wal-Mart eliminated the department. When an entire store in Jonquiere, Quebec, voted to unionize in 2004, Wal-Mart closed the store and fired everybody on the grounds that a unionized store was not part of its business plan. If I were a Wal-Mart employee, I'd get the message.

  2. #2

    What a Douche.

  3. #3

    So..... he never answered the question?

  4. #4

    Damn these money grabbing unions who want dues for their political slush funds. Come on to dc Walmart so I can stop shopping in md and va walmarts, the majority of consumers here will shop at your stores when they are built here.

  5. #5

    As expensive as groceries are becoming in the District, I don't think I could afford it if my Giant unionized...

    Grocery chains, and Walmart, have extremely thin margins, union wages would quickly eliminate their competitive edge (why isn't WCP asking these questions of Target, CVS, Walgreens, Safeway, Giant, Rite Aid, most eating establishments, etc... who pay pretty much the same as Walmart?) and unionizing in these industries doesn't really make sense either, there's no child labor, unsafe work environments, etc...

  6. #6

    @SamuelMoore....uhh...Giant, Safeway, & RiteAid are 100% union in this area, as is Shopper's. Some of the CVS's & Walgreens are also union (depending on where you are).

  7. #7

    @DC Businesses-NO THEY WILL NOT!

    WALMART IS NOTHING BUT A SUPER DOLLAR STORE!

    YOU CAN SMELL THE PETROLEUM PRODUCTS AS SOON AS SNAGGLE TOOTH SAYS WELCOME TO WALMART.

    IT'S OBVIOUS WALMART IS NOT WELCOME WITH OPEN ARMS. WE DONT WANT THEIR SORRY ASS BRAND IN WARD 4. WALMART IS NOTHING BUT A FRONT FOR CHINESE MONEY GRUBBERS.

    THERE ARE NO UNIONS IN WALMART BECAUSE THE CHINESE DONT HAVE UNIONS. IT'S ALL ABOUT MONEY AND CONTROL!

    EXCUSE ME @SamuelMoore HOW DO YOU KNOW THAT GIANT EMPLOYEES ARE NOT UNIONIZED?

    http://www.ufcw.org/about_ufcw/how_we_work/local_locator/index.cfm

  8. #8

    Just when you want to downgrade how rotten they are, a Wal-Mart exec demonstrates that they are in fact evil incarnate.

  9. #9

    That is one hot PR guy. I'd play union organizer / unionbuster with him pretty much anytime.

    Beyond that, are we requiring all local businesses to be unionized, or just the ones we don't like?

  10. #10

    Maybe just the large ones entering a field of smaller players who are unionized.

  11. #11

    Why aren't City Paper employees unionized?

  12. #12

    I don't think anyone is saying that Walmart employees should be forced to have unions. The issue is that Walmart does not allow its employees to freely decide if they want to form a union or not.

    Walmart has a years long record of labor law violations and union busting, in addition to the department and store closing mentioned by cminus. Walmart, like all businesses, should allow their employees to decide for themselves, and remain neutral in union campaigns.

  13. #13

    He's good at his job, I suppose. Probably would be a great PR guy for a shelter that kills puppies too ("Well, puppies have a choice - they came here knowing this was a kill shelter. What can I do?")

  14. #14

    @noodlez Their retail workers in China are unionized. Sorry to dampen your sinophobia, but China has demanded that Walmart treat its retail workers with respect if they are going to make all of their proceeds from selling their products here. Unfortunately, elected leaders here don't have that much backbone to demand anything but campaign contributions.

  15. #15

    Thank you for your excellent article. I added you came across. Continue to work hard.

  16. sockthesockpuppets
    #16

    hahaha "DC Businesses"...you're rhetoric is so in syncwith the Walmart propaganda that your argument would have been far more compelling if you just had come out and admitted that Walmart paid you to make it. After all, that would be an example of them creating jobs, right?

    "Money grabbing [sic] unions". Oh please. Because Wal-Mart execs have taken vows of poverty, right? And they most certainly don't make any political donations whatsoever.

    You're a disgrace. You make The former Iraqi Information Minister "Baghdad Bob" look like Edward R. Murrow.

    Good night and bad luck.

  17. #17

    as a former walmart associate I am furious to hear Wal -Mart say their employees dont want a union. You can not even mention the word union with out fear of losing your job! It is mandated if you hear talk of unions that you report it immediately. They are bullies! Meetings are held with managers to teach them what to look for concerning unions.Wal-Mart associates don't unionize out of fear, how sad is that? In this day and age an employee cant have union representation because of fear!I worked at a distribution center not the store and the rules about unions are the same no matter where in wal-mart you work. vacation time is pro-rated, you only average @ 3 hours of sick time a month, and the price of a decent health insurance package is out of reach of most associates so to say they have a good benefit package is pure lies.

  18. #18

    "Maybe just the large ones entering a field of smaller players who are unionized."

    How many of the 'mom and pop' businesses in the areas around the proposed WalMarts are unionized?

    And are we going to require them all to become unionized once we require that of WalMart?

    I'm not anti-union. I just think all businesses should be treated the same. If we require WalMart to be unionized, we need to require that of every single business in DC.

  19. the truth teller
    #19

    I will start by saying I don't like Wal-Mart and will never shop there because I don't like their business model or products but this union talk is utter bull shit.

    Let's start with the facts the demands from the unions were crazy as they are demanding that Walmart pay more than they have requested for their unionized workers at safeway and giant. Second they are demanding that the stores be built with union only labor in a town in which less that 20% of the local construction industry are union members. The number gets even smaller if you look at DC residents which means the jobs will be built by companies outside of the area with non local residents much like the baseball stadium and the few dc residents would be out of work after the job much like the baseball stadium.

    If these unions of which the majority are based in MD truly cared about city residents and not padding their pockets they would do more for the folks they currently represent. Furthermore they wouldn't require that folks pay into pension program they will never receive benefits from to work on a temporary job.

    The fact of the matter is that they don't want Walmart in the city because much like harristeeter and whole foods they are not beholden to their BS. I mean honestly I hope Walmart doesn't cone but if they do I hope they stick it to the bullshit ufcw and the building trades.

  20. no walmart, please
    #20

    This guy seems ridiculous. Giving employees a CHOICE about unionizing is the fundamental issue here. Walmart has a very long track record of fighting unions tooth and nail. From showing their employees videos when they are hired about how they DON'T need a union to the labor relations posting that explicitly shows their desire to fight unions to the fact they'd rather close stores and departments rather than allow their workers the choice to unionize.

    Just give your employees a CHOICE, Walmart! If they don't choose it, you don't have a problem. But if they do.... DEAL WITH IT.

    Walmart, as they operate now, is a bad for DC. We don't need any other stores helping to make our city's wages a continual race to the bottom. I make very, very little money and live paycheck to paycheck and I still will NEVER shop at a Walmart. There are better options than to support union-busting big box stores.

  21. #21

    @ the truth teller-YOU JUST EXPLAINED WHY WALMART SHOULD STAY OUT OF DC.

    MOST OF THOSE FOLKS THAT ARE NOT UNION MEMBERS ARE LATINO. THIS MEANS THEY WILL UNDERCUT ANY PRICE FOR CONTRUCTION COSTS. THIS IS NOT A KNOCK ON LATINOS BUT IT DEMONSTRATES THE PROFIT MARGIN WALMART WANT TO ACCOMPLISH IN ALL PHASES OF THAT PIECE OF SHIT OF AN ESTABLISHMENT THEY WANT TO PUSH ON WORKING CLASS FOLK OF THIS CITY.

    WHAT I CANT UNDERSTAND IS WHY DO ANYONE THINK A WAL-MART IS NEEDED OR WANTED ANY WHERE IN THIS CITY LET ALONE IN WARD 4? CHEAPER PRICES? YOU GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR FOLKS. ALL THAT CHEAP ASS SHIT IS NOT GOOD FOR YOU, THIS ECOMOMY OR THE ENVIROMENT.

    HAVE YOU NOTICE MCDONALDS IS NOT PUSHING THAT DOLLAR MENU AS HARD. THEY ARE PUSHING COFFEE, OATMEAL AND SMOOTHIES. THERE IS REASON WHY FOLKS WOULD RATHER STAND IN A LONG LINE AND PAY $10 FOR A BURRITO AT CHIPOTLE THAN TO RUSH IN AND OUT TO PAY $10 FOR A BUNCH OF CRAP OUT OF MICKEY D’S.

    YES THEY ARE ABLE TO KEEP THEIR COSTS DOWN BY NOT HIRING UNION WORKERS. THEY ARE ALSO SELLING YOU CRAP THAT COSTS $.25 FROM THERE TO HERE AND CHARGING YOU $5 FOR IT.

    WHERE WAS WALMART 10 YEARS AGO? NOW ALL OF A SUDDEN THEY SEE DC AS SOME CASH COW BECAUSE FOLK THEY WERE CATERING TO PREVIOUSLY ARE NO LONGER SPENDING. THEY FIGURE THE BLACK PRESIDENT IS PUTTING AMERICA BACK ON COURSE SO THEY FIGURE BLACK FOLK OF THIS CITY WILL DO THE SAME FOR THEIR BRAND.

    FUCK THEM! IF I WANT TO GET MY G.C. MURPHY 5&10 ON I WILL CONTINUE TO BUY MY CHEAP SHIT FROM TARGET!

  22. #22

    "Hillman" seems unclear on the concept -- no one is requiring Walmart to unionize it's employees. People are merely pointing out that Walmart goes to extreme lengths to stop their employees from unionizing. Closing down a store in Quebec and a meat department in Texas. Endless frivolous appeals against the Saskatchewan Labor Board, all the way to the Canadian Supreme Court. Intimidating and harrassing employees who show interest in a union, well documented in a 2007 Human Rights Watch report. ("Discounting Rights," May 2007.) Some of what Walmart does is legally questionable. Some is unfortunately legal, showing how dismal US labor law is, and how loaded it is against workers and their right to freedom of asociation.

    None of this is to say that it is solely Walmart's fault, or they are the only ones going to this extent to trample upon their workers right to free association. However, Walmart is one of the worse offenders, that's for sure.

    The comment about "money grubbing unions" is just too comical to ignore. Last year, Walmart made $16 billion in profits, and their CEO made $18 million. (In past years, Walmart CEOs have made up to $30 million or so.) And that pales compared to what top executives at the likes of Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan were raking in during the bubble years, even as they were sinking the world economy. Who you calling money grubbing?

  23. #23

    I work at walmart and would welcome a union they treat us like crap!!!

  24. #24

    Ward 4:

    I do understand pretty well.

    What I understand is that people are demanding all kinds of things of WalMart that they aren't demanding of any other business.

    Like that Walmart can't even inquire about a criminal record for any of its employees. Including cashiers, accountants, etc.

    That Walmart must provide two police officers at each store at all times.

    That Walmart must hire 75% of its workforce from DC itself.

    I think my favorite, though (other than the part about having to hire convicted felons), is this:

    "Walmart will ensure that it contracts with vendors, advertising agencies, and other service providers (such as janitorial and maintenance service providers) that are locally-based, and that agree to binding “responsible contractor” codes of conduct, to be defined by community stakeholders."

    Really? "Community stakeholders" get to scrutinize every single contract Walmart makes and weigh in on the 'codes of conduct'?

    That's simply unworkable, from a business point of view.

    And can anyone point to a single area business that these demands are made of?

    I guess my point is twofold. The demands are ridiculous, and they are being very arbitrarily made.

  25. sockthesockpuppets
    #25

    Something that hasn't been mentioned is how Walmart is completely hijacking the FEED DC Act.

    Before the ink on the legislation had time to dry - i.e. before businesses more welcome in the district had a chance to benefit from a bill designed to help them help the under-served communities - Walmart stepped in and portrayed itself as some sort of selfless savior, galloping in on a white stallion to provide relief to impoverished Washingtonians. And they claim that they aren't lobbying for government subsidy either. What utter nonsense. They don't need to as one had already been passed for their taking. It'd be nice to see this angle discussed more by the media - how Walmart is stealthily piggybacking on generally popular legislation before it even had time to take effect.

  26. #26

    Please say more about the FEED DC Act and what it was designed to do.
    Somehow I missed that and it seems important in this discussion.
    Thanks

  27. #27

    I've worked for Walmart for three years, and most of the negative stuff posted on the web about bad working conditions is false and, you'll notice, conveniently sponsored by unions. If you pay attention to the tactics they try to use to get us to unionize, you'd realize how bogus their claims are.

    If you hate Walmart, fine, shop somewhere else. But don't dump your union BS on us because WE DON'T WANT IT!

  28. #28

    O.k. so continue to shop there and get your low prices.work like a f-ing china man for no wage. let the jew attorneys dictate whats good for the workers.Hebrews make the money discouraging union representation. Sam walton is dead and buried and still dictates his 1950s philosophy from the grave. meanwhile his witch wife buys millions in artwork w/ profits from the workers sweat. Have some balls! the managers are kiss ass candy asses. never been in a real street fight in thier life! never bled.

  29. #29

    I have talked with many Walmart employees near where I live
    no one has wanted Unions...The Unions do not like Walmart because of that they cannot control Walmart...also, I have read recently that alot of Walmart donations go to the RNC....maybe that is why the unions and the DNC don't like us.
    plese keep up the fight for Liberty and Justice for all
    we are in for the fight of our lives!

  30. #30

    I hear a lot about employee's choice. What of employer's choice? I have been a union worker, and i have built a business.I would shut my company down in a second if it was unionized. No union company thrives long term, without government contracts, because efficiency is discouraged.If the workers think they know more about management than management, go start your own store.

  31. #31

    I like the fact there is no unions at walmart. Unions make people complacent and lazy because they are guaranteed a raise if they do a good job or a poor one. The system in place now gives you raises based on performance not senority. Customer service will suffer if a union came into walmart. I have worked in union shops and everyone is so unhappy. You can feel the bad vibes when you walk into a union shop. I think i would leave walmart if they ever unionized

  32. #32

    Walmart is whats wrong with America people. Walmart employees need to stand up together and fight Walmarts scab labor practices. Do not shop at Walmart people until they unionize all there stores.

  33. #33

    Working Union is the only way to go.If you people want to work for $8 a hour keeping working for Walmart. Idiots

  34. #34

    Unions could change your miserable life. But if u want to work for $8 a hour keep working for Walmart. Ha Ha ha. Stupid hillbilly americans with Zero education. good luck walmart employees. Scum bags

  35. #35

    I would imagine that many union members shop at Walmart. With prices so high how else can you afford to by Christmas presents for your children?

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