In the past few weeks, thousands of Walmart store managers and department heads nationwide have been attending mandatory meetings designed to influence their vote this November, the Wall Street Journal has learned.
These meetings, according to employees who have attended them, are heavily slanted in favor of the GOP. Although Walmart executives do not specifically tell these employees to vote Republican, the inference is obvious.
According to the Wall Street Journal, in these mandatory meetings:
Walmart executives claim that employees at unionized stores would have to pay hefty union dues while getting nothing in return, and may have to go on strike without compensation. Also, unionization could mean fewer jobs as labor costs rise.
Walmart’s actions come in response to the Employee Free Choice Act, a bill that, if passed, would make it much easier for employees to unionize. Though this bill floundered under a Senate filibuster and a veto threat by President Bush last year, Democratic leaders promised to resurrect it in the future. A win by Obama, a co-sponsor of the EFCA, might be the stimulus needed to push it into law.
Walmart does not want that possibility, nor do many other influential organizations and companies. The United States Chamber of Commerce, the Employee Freedom Action Committee, the Coalition for a Democratic Workplace, and uniform laundry giant Cintas Corporation are just some of the entities that are feverishly lobbying against the passage of the EFCA. Moreover, they have raised substantial money to ensure its defeat.
Why is this law so scary to many businesses?
The Wall Street Journal says that:
Both supporters and opponents of the Employee Free Choice Act believe it would simplify and speed labor’s ability to unionize companies.
The current union laws only allow for a secret ballot election to determine union representation. This election is usually preceded by months of heavy, and heated, campaigning by union organizers, and employers, as they try to rally employees to their particular side of the unionization fence.
If the EFCA is passed, a union can form if more than half of the employees sign a card in support of a union. This makes it much easier for a union to form, as union organizers can lobby employees repeatedly, over months, until they gather the requisite number of cards.
Walmart does not deny its opposition to the EFCA, but does deny that it told employees how to vote. According to attendees of the meetings, Walmart is telling the truth about this—well, sort of. As one employee told the Wall Street Journal:
The meeting leader said, ‘I am not telling you how to vote, but if the Democrats win, this bill will pass and you won’t have a vote on whether you want a union.’ [this employee said] I am not a stupid person. They were telling me how to vote.