Undemocratic card check threat hurts Walmart stock

Posted on March 12, 2009


The spectre of union card check legislation has caused Citigroup to downgrade the value of Walmart’s stock, noting the legislation, introduced this week and seemingly aimed at the large non-union retailer, would create significant costs and bring down earnings for the company.

Walmart-haters don’t care about any of that and are gleefully anticipating a comeuppance for the mean and evil corporation. The point they miss is that a lot of middle to lower class folks do their shopping at Walmart, so a rise in costs for the company will mean a rise in prices for them. Is that any way to stimulate the economy? No, it isn’t.

I’m no apologist for Walmart. I’m not thrilled with the amount of goods they import from China, but then again, Target, Costco, Meijer’s, etc., all do exactly the same thing, but Walmart is singled out because it’s nonunion, so it’s continued success is a speck of dust in Big Labor’s eye, showing that the union model isn’t the only or even the best way to financial success, for management and for workers, who do just fine under Walmart’s pay structure.

The larger point about card check, otherwise known deceptively as the Employee Free Choice Act, is that it is inherently undemocratic. The quick version of how it works is as follows: in lieu of having a secret ballot election to determine whether a company’s workers will unionize, organizers can simply have employees sign a card and present that to management to avoid an election altogether.

The opportunities for intimidation and coercion, overt and subtle, are limitless, as employees who might be against unionization might feel uncomfortable declining to sign a card in front of their coworkers and glowering union organizers, and retaliation from either side against those who didn’t vote their way seems assured. I know that some companies have meetings urging their employees about the dangers of unionization before such elections, which might skew the results, but at the end of the day, the worker by himself makes a quiet and anonymous decision on whether to go union.

It’s my personal belief that unions no longer serve the once-vaunted goal of protecting the worker as they used to when the labor movement first began. Instead, now they act as sports agents for their clients, getting them the best deal management will pony up under threat of strike. They have their place in history and provide some decent services today, but they have become largely irrelevant, mainly due to the steep domestic decline of the industries they dominate. One need only look at the auto industry for a glimpse at what out-of-control unions, along with bad management and suffocating regulation, can do to business

Thankfully, the measure isn’t as popular as backers have hoped, as moderate Democrats are balking at the divisiveness and the seeming unfairness of the proposal. Hell, even a former union leader, Neal Catlett, opposes card check on the grounds that privacy of opinion is key to the protection of the worker, and he’s spot on. Michelle Malkin notes that Arlen Specter will again be a swing figure in the vote-wrangling ahead. In my view, card check is an inherently unfair and undemocratic method that will hurt business, and it ought to be defeated.

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