Wal-Mart. Yeah, I know, no surprise. What was surprising, to me at least, is despite having known about these meetings, I never got to read any first hand accounts of them, until today. From Dailykos:
The way Wal-Mart likes to scare associates away from organizing is to attack the union itself. In their brainwashing video, they show organizers as slick, professional bullshitters. Sort of like used car salesmen or ambulance-chasing lawyers. You can visualize the stereotype. They then show actors (I wonder if they are SAG actors?) posing as associates in hypothetical situations. In situation A, we are a happy, non-union store. In situation B, the evil union has taken the store over. The first hypothetical situation is about a spill in grocery. One associate asks another to guard a spill while he cleans it up. Ok, a normal everyday occurrence. Then we see what happens when THE EVIL EVIL UNION has taken control. The associate now says "We can't clean this spill, the maintenance workers are under a union contract. Only they are allowed to do this work. Further, for attempting to do this work in violation of the contract, you can be fined up to $20000". Uhhhh, WHAT!?!? I look around the room, to see if the room is actually buying this malarkey. Then in the next situation, the store manager and a supervisor are deciding on who would be a good associate to promote to department manager. No one has ever consulted ME on promotions, but whatever. Then we see what would happen if THE SATANIC BABY EATING UNION were in the store. Now the slimey shop steward is in the meeting, and he vetoes the store manager's suggestion for a promotion. Mr. shop steward then goes to tell the most senior member in the department (who coincidentally is also the most unpopular) that he has the job. Um, yeah sure. I bet if real unions had micromanaging power like that, GM, Ford, and Chrysler would not be up shit creek right now.
I have never worked for Wal-Mart. I've read Nickle and Dimed: On (not) Getting By in America and after putting myself through college working 3rd shift as a waitress, well, let's just say that I get this stuff, it's just that no one ever made such a complete and utter show of being anti-union. They threatened to close restaurants and forges, but no one ever went to the level of union-bashing that I've heard Wal-Mart does. In fact, they actually come right out and say it at this meeting:
An eternity later (it was actually probably 2 hours), the meeting ends. We all shuffle back to our cars, so we can clock out and get the hell out of there. Some associates are still talking amongst themselves about what just transpired. But what was lingering in my brain was something Charlie said. Something that made my stomach sick. "To combat the union, we are having meetings with every level of the stores. We already had meetings with the salaried managers. We are currently conducting meetings with you supervisors. And soon, we will start having meetings with the hourly associates." I thought about all those hourly associates. People who have spent decades building this company. People who will now be subject to Wal-Mart's bünd meetings. People who have no skills, and so much to lose if they were to be fired. My friends. I felt powerless in that meeting. I wanted to stand up and scream "You are all damned liars and you know it!". But I kept silent. What good would it have done. Now, all over the country, thousands will know the cruelty of Wal-Mart intimidation and union-busting.
That is why it is so important that Congress and President Obama pass the Employee Free Choice Act. No one should have to live their lives feeling defeated and powerless. No one should have to hold their head low just to feed their families. This is not just about fair pay and health insurance. Its about dignity. Its about respect. Its about being able to go to work, without having to be afraid anymore.
I highly recommend a full read of the piece and if you get a minute, read the comments, they're amazing.