Labor Unions have long been after Walmart. In return, Walmart remains un-unionized and unapolegetic for it. Should Walmart unionize its workforce or should the labor unions leave the retail giant alone?
Walmart is the world’s leading private employer with a whooping 1.3 million employees. It’s employees are not represented by any sort of formal, organized, labor group. Not only are both sides of the great debate represented by these two facts, but put together they are the very heart of the problem. Walmart cannot offer better pay, benefits, and continuous union demands without suffering a loss to their profits. This is why the great debate became a problem and will remain a problem until either Walmart allows unionization or labor unions cease to exist.
Wal-mart spokesperson, Bill Wertz responds, “It’s our approach with our associates to treat them right and have a genuine partnership with them. We need a lot of people to conduct our business and fill our existing stores. We couldn’t do that if we mistreated our people.”
Labor Unions and critics claim, “Wal-mart discriminates against women, underpays workers and uses illegal tactics to kill unionization efforts….Roughly 40 lawsuits have been filed by employees who say they were forced to work overtime for no pay.” Critics are aiming for better worker compensation and undisciplined support for unionization.
Information from the Labor Department, put Wal-mart employees’ average pay at: $9.08 per hour. Unions estimated non-supervising employees make $8.00 hr. The United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW) claims that Wal-mart employees are making 30% less than unionized workers at competing companies.
Walmart claims that 75% of their employees are eligible for health benefits. 60% (of the qualifying 75%) actually have the plan. Walmart covers 2/3rds of insurance costs. While their insurance may be more expensive than some of their competitor’s, it’s said to be more comprehensive and free of benefit caps. Considering that the majority of Walmart’s employees are full-time, they claim to have a higher percentage of workers involved in their health care insurance plan than competitors. The UFCW claims that 2 out of every 3 employees can’t afford or aren’t qualified to receive health insurance benefits. In addition, some of Walmart’s competitor’s pay more than 2/3rds of the cost.
Sexual discrimination is another problem charged at Walmart. They have been accused of discriminating against women in regards to promotional opportunities, assigned jobs, wages and training. It’s been estimated that 70% of their labor force is female, but only less than 1/3 of their managers are women.
Walmart has been brought on 28 complaint charges for anti-union activities such as threatening, interrogating, or disciplining employees for union talk. These complaints have been brought against them by the National Labor Relations Board. Wertz claims, “The question our people have is what the unions’ real intent is. It doesn’t seem like a genuine membership drive. It seems like more of an effort to discredit the company and protect those companies that do employ union members.”