August 17, 2008

Vote Repuglican or Get Fired

Please spread the word that Wal-Mart and other corporate pigs are lecturing (and probably intimidating) workers on the cons, cons and cons of joining unions. Wrap that up in a nice big “Democrats will make you pay” scary theme bag, and you’re ready for a gigantic baloney sandwich. Here are excerpts from the Wall Street Journal’s coverage of how Wal-Mart coerces their workers to vote repuglican:
Unions Seek Probe of Wal-Mart Over Election Law At Issue Is Talk With Employees On Vote Impact
By Kris Maher and
Ann Zimmerman
August 14, 2008

Prominent labor groups are seeking an investigation into whether Wal-Mart Stores Inc. violated federal election laws by telling employees that electing Democrats would lead to passage of legislation making it easier to unionize companies.
In a letter to be delivered as early as Thursday, the labor groups are asking the Federal Election Commission to determine whether
the company "made prohibited corporate expenditures" by organizing meetings across the country to warn employees that a Democratic president would back legislation known as the Employee Free Choice Act, which the company opposes. The groups say such statements amount to advocating the defeat of Sen. Barack Obama, the presumptive Democratic nominee, in the November election.
Companies aren't permitted under federal election law to expressly advocate to hourly employees the election or defeat of specific candidates. The complaint cites as its source an Aug. 1 front-page article in The Wall Street Journal
[here:] that reported the Bentonville, Ark., retailer held meetings with thousands of store managers and department supervisors across the country to discuss the legislation.
The labor groups are also expected to submit petitions with 60,000 signatures requesting an investigation. American Rights at Work, a worker advocacy group, the AFL-CIO and Change to Win labor federations and, a labor-backed group, are filing the complaint.

Mary Beth Maxwell, executive director of American Rights at Work, said Wal-
Mart "adapted their unionbusting tactics to influence our federal election system."
Wal-Mart spokesman David Tovar said the company's policies are clear and that anyone represen
ting the company and telling associates how to vote were "wrong and acting without approval."
Legal experts said election-law complaints against employers are rare but that the complaint against Wal-Mart merits consideration. "I think it's going to be a case that the FEC is going to have to take seriously," said Joseph M. Birkenstock, a Washington attorney specializing in election law. The key to the case will be "exactly what was said" at meetings, he said.
Meanwhile, new details are emerging that show Wal-Mart managers leading the meetings are spreading inaccurate information about the Employee Free Choice Act, according to a digital recording of a Wal-Mart meeting made by a Wal-Mart employee and reviewed by the Journal.
In the hour-and-a-half meeting, held for managers in a Southern state, the leader tells employees that their wages may be reduced to minimum wage for up to three months before a contract is negotiated, that union authorization cards violate workers' right to privacy by including their Social Security numbers on them and that if a small unit within a store votes to unionize, the entire store will be unionized.
"If you have 10 associates in a photo lab and six sign union authorization cars, now the store is unionized," the meeting leader told employees. "Six people can make a decision for 350 people," which is about the average number of workers in a Walmart supercenter.
Labor lawyers say these are inaccurate interpretations of labor law in general and the Employee Free Choice Act specifically, and that could be a violation of labor law. "The statements are not correct representations of what the law would require even under the current law," said Jeffrey Hirsch, a labor lawyer in Boston. "It would be a violation of the national labor relations act to say those things."
[...] According to the recording, the meeting leader, a human-resources manager, began by saying she was going to talk about the company and unions and "a little bit of politics," specifically the Employee Free Choice Act. The leader said that the bill almost passed last year. "If Democrats get the votes they need and elect a Democratic president, they said it will be the first bill presented and that's scary," she said.
Wal-Mart's Mr. Tovar said the meeting leader's use of the word scary was "unauthorized."
The managers and supervisors were told that they could not threaten, intimidate, make promises to or spy on workers interested in a union. They could, however, give facts, opinions and share experiences. During the meeting, employees were shown a video enactment of a union steward telling a manager that the manager could be fined for cleaning up a spill on a store floor because of the union contract. In another clip, a role-playing manager says, "When I was little my dad belonged to the United Auto Workers union. They went out on strike and he had to walk the picket line for six months."
At one point, the meeting leader mentioned that union representatives are already asking Wal-Mart workers to sign cards, which would be valid for a year. Mr. Tovar confirmed that unions are "actively collecting signatures for authorization cards now at our stores."
Jill Cashen, a spokeswoman for the United Food and Commercial Workers, said the union hasn't started an organizing campaign, but locals could be doing organizing on their own.
The battle between business and labor over the Employee Free Choice Act has made the legislation a campaign issue. Sen. Obama co-sponsored the legislation, which also is known as "card check," and has said he would sign it into law if elected president. Sen. John McCain, the likely Republican presidential nominee, opposes the Employee Free Choice Act and voted against it last year. Both labor and business agree the legislation would make it easier for the labor movement to organize more workers.
Write to
Kris Maher at and Ann Zimmerman at

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