Recently Walmart closed a store in Quebec that was moving towards unionization. The UFCW built a webpage to encouraging us to direct outrage at Walmart, who soon started bouncing complaint emails sent to it [no surprise there].
The contents of that page were picked up and included in the March 2005 Columbia Journal [see the bottom of the page of letters], one of the few independent papers in BC.
One phrase was particularly niggly in my head as I read it a few times. Eventually I figured out why I disagreed with it:
The message from the world’s largest and wealthiest corporation to consumers, communities and workers worldwide is clear: Wal-Mart would rather close stores, eliminate worker’s jobs and make the entire community suffer, rather than reach an agreement with workers for fair wages and benefits.
The bolded section is my emphasis; it reflects perhaps an ironic mistake. While a unionized Walmart would be better than a non-unionized one, no Walmart is better than a Walmart at all. Walmarts create a local economic black hole that uses economies of scale and monopolistic purchasing practices to drive out all competition, including small community-based businesses, many of which pay decent wages and benefits, thereby precluding a need to unionize.
Indeed sometimes Walmart will open two stores “too” close together to absolutely saturate the market and drive all competition six feet underground, then close one store and reap the monopolistic benefits.
My favorite Walmart cynical trick to destroy humanity was its dead peasant insurance policies it secretly took out on its employees with itself as the beneficiary. Such a policy makes one question whether their employer will pay any real attention to keeping them merely alive on the job.
Simply, though, if the Walmart virus happens to arrive in a community, one tool to actually help heal the community’s economy would be a kind of chemotherapy that exists in a unionization drive. Success, or near success can get the parasitical virus to expel itself from the economic host.
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