What apparently has Wal-Mart executives' panties in a snit is the belief that if Obama becomes president it's more likely that its employees will unionize, which is something the notoriously stingy employer fears. Wal-Mart's reputation as a lousy employer is legendary. Charges of low wages, poor benefits and overall workplace mistreatment have plagued the company for years.
At issue now is a bill, co-sponsored by Obama and opposed by the GOP's presumptive nominee, Sen. John McCain, that could force the retail giant's hand and serve to appreciably lighten its pocketbook. The measure, called the Employee Free Choice Act, would allow unions to organize workplaces without secret ballot elections, thus making it much easier to turn companies from non-union to union. Should this happen at Wal-Mart, it would cost the company bazillions, eating into its sizable earnings. Wal-Mart recently reported first quarter 2008 profits of over $3-billion, a 6.9% increase over last year. Our collective hearts bleed for them, huh?
So what exactly is Wal-Mart up to? The Wall Street Journal reported this week that the company has been holding mandatory Chicken Little meetings with store managers and department supervisors warning that the bill would likely pass in an Obama administration and that that would negatively impact its workers. To what degree the warnings were issued is not confirmed, but many Wal-Mart employees anonymously have said that the company's message is quite clear: "a vote for Obama could mean a loss of jobs." And while the company may not have specifically instructed any of its employees -- be they management or rank-and-file -- to vote specifically for McCain, the intention is obvious: "We don't like Obama. We don't like Unions. Obama will unionize us. That will hurt business and result in massive layoffs. We do not want Obama to be president." They don't need to finish this with, "and if you vote for Obama you will lose your job." The perceived threat is already there. Of course, Wal-Mart denies that it's threatened or intimidated its workers.
As expected, right-wing spinheads are rushing to Wal-Mart's defense. On his national Sirius Satellite Radio program Friday, The Wilkow Majority, Andrew Wilkow emphatically and repeatedly asserted that Wal-Mart, or any company for that matter, not only has the right to maintain whatever size workforce it so desires, but that it would be well within their right to warn employees outright that "If you vote for Obama you will be fired."
In an email exchange, I pointed out to Wilkow that not only is his suggestion unconscionable in terms of voter intimidation, but that it was convoluted in its enforceability. How would Wal-Mart know who their employees voted for? And how, therefore, could they fire only those who voted for Obama? It's moronic no matter how you slice it.
This is what has the left all up in arms; Andrew Wilkow chimes in on the debate…
“What I said was that a company has the right to inform the workers of the stark reality of the effect the election may have on their business. I wasn’t endorsing voter intimidation. A company doesn’t have any obligation to maintain a particular number of employees or production output. If a company feels that the political climate is going to add weight or cost to doing business a company is free to cut staff or production. If that is not the case then who is going to force a company to maintain said levels of production and staff or stay in business at all for that matter?”
Cross Posted @ sayanythingblog.com