Walmart Allows Its Workers To Unionize In Other Countries, Just Not In The United States
By Travis Waldron on Jun 8, 2011 at 12:40 pm
To complete its acquisition of Massmart, a chain of retail stores in South Africa, Walmart struck a deal that must seem extraordinary to the company’s American employees. To win government approval of the acquisition, Walmart made concessions to a South African labor union, agreeing to avoid worker layoffs, honor existing union contracts, and use local suppliers.
The idea that Walmart negotiated with and made concessions to a labor union in South Africa may seem odd to workers in the United States, where Walmart has developed a reputation as one of the country’s most virulent opponents of organization efforts. In fact, Walmart’s workers are organized in many of the foreign countries in which it does business.
In Brazil, Argentina, China, the United Kingdom, and now South Africa, some Walmart employees are organized. In China, Walmart is required by law to recognize union membership, and in Mexico, 18 percent of its workers are organized. British labor leaders describe their dealings with Walmart as “honest,” and in Argentina, organized employees make as much as 40 percent more than employees at retailer’s major competitors.
Walmart has a convenient response to why it lets workers organize in these countries, as the Washington Post reports:
“We have a local philosophy,” Wal-Mart International Chief Executive Doug McMillon recently told reporters. “It’s our intention to demonstrate that we are a great corporate citizen.”
In Brazil and Argentina, meanwhile, Walmart says it allows workers to unionize because “that’s what the associates want”:
“We recognize those rights,” said John Peter “J.P.” Suarez , senior vice president of international business development at Walmart. “In that market, that’s what the associates want, and that’s the prevailing practice.”
Apparently for Walmart, however, it matters not what workers want if those workers happen to be American.
article from ThinkProgress By Travis Waldron on Jun 8, 2011