Union Asks For Arbitration in Wal-Mart Talks

Feb 04, 2005
George Anderson

By George Anderson

The United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW) representing employees at a Wal-Mart store in Jonquiere, Canada have asked Quebec’s Labor Minister Claude Bechard to appoint an arbiter to get its talks with the retailer moving again.

The union and Wal-Mart have had nine bargaining sessions since December and talks, according to the UFCW, have stalled over a number of issues, including employee status, work schedules and seniority clauses.

The retailer has said it will consider closing the store if it is unable to work out a “reasonable” agreement with the union.

Wal-Mart faces other union challenges in Canada and the U.S.

Last month, employees at a second Canadian store in Saint-Hyacinthe were granted union certification from the Quebec Labor Relations Commission. Formal talks have not yet begun in that case.

The UFCW also has applied to the government to represent Wal-Mart associates at 12 other locations in the country.

In the U.S., the National Labor Relations Board ruled last week that employees working in a tire department at a Wal-Mart in Colorado could hold an election to decide if the
union would represent them in bargaining with the retailer.

Moderator’s Comment: What would be the practical consequences for Wal-Mart if the stores in question in Canada and Colorado were to be represented by
the UFCW?

George Anderson – Moderator

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