Unions Make Stand Against Wal-Mart In Michigan
By George Anderson
The Teamsters, United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW), Service Employees International and Hotel and Restaurant Employees International are joining together in Michigan to launch a publicity campaign they hope will finally get consumers to stop shopping at Wal-Mart.
The unions, most notably the UFCW, have been defeated at every turn in attempts to organize the retailer’s labor force despite claims Wal-Mart mistreats employees, pays them low wages and charges them exorbitant rates to participate in the company’s health plan.
According to the unions, Wal-Mart encourages employees to seek public assistance through programs such as Medicaid and Women, Infants and Children (WIC).
Joe Hansen, president of the UFCW told the Detroit News, “A Wal-Mart economy is about lower paychecks and no benefits, and America can’t succeed on that type of philosophy.”
Michael Bernacchi, a marketing professor at the University of Detroit-Mercy doesn’t think consumers will be moved by the union’s message. “People know what Wal-Mart is doing, and they don’t care. They just want the low prices,” he said.
Steven Cole, a retail analyst, takes a different view. “Wal-Mart is too big for their britches,” he said. “At some point, this backfires and the public just gets tired of a company and they don’t cut them the slack they once did.”
Moderator’s Comment: Will consumers in Michigan be receptive to the messages coming from the four unions?
Even if the unions were correct and Wal-Mart was essentially moving the costs for caring for employees over to public programs, none of us ever see a bill.
We do, however, see significant savings over other places we shop when we go through a Wal-Mart checkout. –
George Anderson – Moderator