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December 17, 2004

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Richard Santos

This information is from the MPR web site.

Business
Wal-Mart Closure Touches Off Union Debate
by Frank Langfitt

Noella Langlois, who stocked shelves at the Jonquiere store, said she was opposed to the union because Wal-Mart provided good pay and benefits. Frank Langfitt, NPR

Jean Tremblay serves as the mayor overseeing Jonquiere. "We don’t like Wal-Mart anymore," he says. Frank Langfitt, NPR

Jessy Pothier works at the Wal-Mart in nearby Chicoutimi. He says workers there are afraid if they tried to start a union, the company might close that store, too. Frank Langfitt, NPR

Morning Edition, May 4, 2005 · Wal-Mart is closing a store in a small city in northern Quebec after employees recently voted to unionize. The decision has the blue-collar town -- and the store's employees -- divided over who's to blame.

Workers at the Jonquiere Wal-Mart unionized the store in 2004, becoming the company's only union store in North America. Last week, Wal-Mart closed it. Officials say the location wasn't making money. Opinions in the French-Canadian city range from those who love Wal-Mart's low prices to those who can't stand its labor practices.

Jonquiere has a reputation as a strong labor town, with about two in five workers belonging to unions. But some worry that publicity from the store's closure will make it harder for the city to attract outside business.

The store's closure is one of a growing a number of attempts to unionize America's largest company. The battle to do so now moves to St. Hyacinthe, east of Montreal. That's where another group of Wal-Mart workers won union recognition in January.


Related NPR Stories
May. 4, 2005
'Love Mom, Not Wal-Mart' Campaign Targets Retailer
Apr. 25, 2005
Wal-Mart Faces New Public Image Battle
Apr. 15, 2005
Maryland Presses Wal-Mart on Health Care for Workers
Apr. 6, 2005
Wal-Mart Tops Fortune 500 List
Mar. 19, 2005
Wal-Mart Settles Undocumented Worker Case
Jan. 14, 2005
The Marketplace Report: Wal-Mart's PR Moves
Jan. 14, 2004
Suit: Wal-Mart Employees Worked Without Pay

LoB

"If you are making a decent salary in a non-union company, you owe that to the unions. One thing that corporations do not do is give money out of the goodness of their hearts."

—Molly Ivins


Several Union-based organizations maintain excellent links describing the unfair treatment of employees at Walmart. Unions have had more tangible successes in the struggle to identify and correct these types of wrongs in corporate america than have individuals or other types of groups. Read about the real-life problems associated with the Walmartization of America, the work done by Unions to stop Walmart abuse, and learn why corporations and many politicians desparately want to stop employees from starting Unions.

Here are a few links to get you started:

"Workers and Communities Suffer When Walmart Moves In":
http://www.aflcio.org/corporateamerica/walmart/walmart

A basic fact-checker about Walmart:
http://factchecker.purpleocean.org/

How and Why People Join Unions:
http://www.aflcio.org/aboutunions/joinunions/

Myths and Facts About Unions:
http://www.aflcio.org/aboutunions/joinunions/myths.cfm

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