Union Public Policy Class

Solving the World's Problems One Bulldog at a Time

More on Unions

This summer I worked as a business intern at SAM’s club in Jackson. Part of my internship required me to learn all of the Wal-Mart company’s values given my Sam Walton. I was impressed with the company values and how diligent the Wal-Mart corporation was in training and enforcing these values. Every day at our morning meetings the general manager of the club would review the managers and associates with lessons from Sam Walton’s definition of culture. In addition to refreshers at meetings, all associates, myself included, are required to do several training courses before ever working an actual shift.  In my short time there, I could tell that these values were well know among the workers at SAM’s. In addition to a culture of excellence, Wal-Mart has in place several ways for the associates to voice their opinion through programs such as the Open Door Policy or Grass Roots.

The general manager Jackson SAM’s got his start in retail through Kroger. When I asked him why he left Kroger and came to the Wal-Mart side of retail his reason was unions. After dealing with the Kroger unions for several years and the inability to be efficient at work the general manager of Jackson SAM’s left Kroger in frustration.

I was surprised to see Wal-Mart workers advocating for Wal-Mart to unionized because in my experience Wal-Mart/SAM’s was a good company to work for. I got payed for being an intern and I had a lot of individual attention from the club’s managers. I realized that my case may be different than in other club’s, but I saw conscience efforts to make the associated to feel important and needed.

I decided to do some research to find out why these Wal-Mart employees wanted a union. My research found that although the advocates for unions are present, the majority of the push for unions does not reside with Wal-Mart associates. Most of the action towards unions was from actual labor unions trying to gain support from existing employees. Since the employees would be losing the push for Wal-Mart to become unionized didn’t stand.

During this push for unions, David Tovar, a Wal-Mart spokesman, addressed the issue by showing that adapting a union would hurt the Wal-Mart associates.

“The fact is our wages and benefits typically exceed those provided by the majority of our competition,” Mr. Tovar added. “As a result, our associates have concluded time and again that they are better off with the pay, benefits package and opportunities for advancement provided by Wal-Mart and have chosen to reject unions.”

So why would labor unions attack Wal-Mart? Probably because Wal-Mart is rocking and everyone knows it. What I mean is that attacking such a large and successful company like Wal-Mart with vague accusations like “Wal-Mart doesn’t respect workers” is a good way for the unions to push their political agenda and get some press that makes unions look appealing, but it looks like they don’t stand a chance!



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One thought on “More on Unions

  1. I remember reading how a lot of Wal-Mart employees who protested were doing so because Wal-Mart refused to hire them full-time, which essentially took away the vacation days, health benefits, etc. My retail store back home did that too – there were several girls who only worked 39 hours a week so they were on an hourly wage instead of a salary with benefits. Maybe that’s one reason Wal-Mart workers want to unionize.

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