Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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November 8, 2005
By: Kevin Drum

HARSHING ON WAL-MART....Christopher Hayes has seen Robert Greenwald's new documentary, Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price, and writes today about Wal-Mart's brass knuckle anti-union tactics:

Theres little secret to Wal-Marts success. The company will simply do whatever it takes to keep workers from organizing. Staying union free is a full-time commitment, reads one of the companys training manuals. [F]rom the Chairperson of the Board down to the front-line manager [t]he entire management staff should fully comprehend and appreciate exactly what is expected of their individual efforts to meet the union free objective.

....Former managers, like Stan Fortune, who worked for Wal-Mart for 17 years and then went to work for UFCW, say the store also illegally follows union sympathizers and spies on its employees with cameras in break rooms. One of their favorite tactics is to say, We need to freeze all raises in the store because it cant appear that were bribing anybody, Fortune says in the film.

And then Wal-Mart will find a way to get rid of troublemakers. Thats what spelled the end of Fortunes career as a manager at the company. In 2001 Fortune was managing a Wal-Mart in Weatherford, Texas, when his boss instructed him to fire an employee suspected of talking to the union. I told him Im not firing him, Fortune says. Thats illegal He got in my face and said, You fire him or Im going to fire you. A week later, Fortune was gone. I filed for unemployment and the state found I was fired without cause. Thats when I found out that means nothing in the real world.

Chris' article is part of an "unprecedented journalistic collaboration" among liberal magazines to highlight themes from the film. AlterNet has a complete list here, including pieces from Liza Featherstone on the Walton family's charitable donations and Harold Meyerson on barbaric conditions at Wal-Mart factories in Latin America. Read 'em all!

Kevin Drum 12:44 PM Permalink | Trackbacks

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