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Unions to Dems: You Work for US!

One of the interesting side notes in the WSJ article last Friday was the disclosure that Wal-Mart was splitting its campaign contributions almost equally between Democrats and Republicans. Jonathan Tasini writing in The Huffington Post was quite displeased that Democrats would actually take money from Wal-Mart. If you had any doubt about whether or not unions think they “own” the Democrats, check out these prescriptions for rectifying the “problem:”

1. The Change To Win Coalition and the AFL-CIO should jointly send a letter to Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, Charles Schumer (head of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee) and Chris Hollen (head of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee) demanding that party members return every dime to Wal-Mart.

2. Both Federations should also write to every member of Congress declaring that any Democrat receiving or keeping Wal-Mart money can kiss

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Ralph Nader weighs in on Wal-Mart

A lot of the same old complaints about Wal-Mart – this time because they AGREED to representation by unions in China (of course, it’s not the right unions, since these unions have the nerve to cooperate with management). I’ve said this before, but it bears repeating – what would current Wal-Mart workers cost the state and federal government if they didn’t have jobs? Wal-Mart is not the answer to the world’s problems, and the market certainly has negative consequences for companies (and their workers) who cannot compete, but Wal-Mart’s impact on the U.S. and world economy has been profound and net-positive.

On a related note, a group of tire and lube workers in Colorado has filed an NLRB petition asking for an election to represent the 17 workers in that department. Wal-Mart is arguing that the whole store (400 employees) should get to vote on the

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Interesting article on the economic impact of Wal-Mart

I’ve seen a lot of praise for Wal-Mart’s business processes, but I’ve never seen anyone try to estimate its impact on the economy. According to this article, it is HUGE (accounting for over half of the productivity gains in the 90’s – more than all computer technology, including the internet, combined – and reducing inflation dramatically). I haven’t read the underlying study and I’m sure it is subject to criticism (some of the typical complaints can be found in a recent article here), but I know for a fact that Wal-Mart has transformed productivity in a lot of industries I’ve worked with.

Wal-Mart unions in China?

Appears that China is attempting to force Wal-Mart into accepting unions in its stores in China (hat tip Joe Hill Dispatch). But apparently unions in China aren’t “real” unions, but more like an arm of the Communist party.

Another Kelber Take on Unity Partnership

Here is another great take by Harry Kelber on why the national unity partnership idea is a non-starter. I especially like his take on the plan to invest $25 million a year into organizing Wal-Mart: “Choosing Wal-Mart as the first organizing project makes no practical sense at all, since the United Food and Commercial Workers has spent millions of dollars over many years and has not been able to organize even one of Wal-Mart’s 4,750 supermarkets. What would Stern do differently, except pour more money into the organizing campaign?” Good question. Attacks on Wal-Mart are good for newspaper coverage (something a lot of union leaders crave), but right now unions need members – which means picking off easy targets one small unit at a time.

Forcing Wal-Mart into the health care business

The NYT ran this article today on how states are attempting to force Wal-Mart to cough up more money for benefits for its workers. Citing the expense of the coverage (the rates sound very reasonable, although still very expensive in relation to worker pay – like nearly every company I work with) these states are trying to force Wal-Mart to either cover workers or pay money to the state for coverage. As I’ve commented in the past, this is a horrible idea. I wish Wal-Mart would respond by putting medical clinics into all its stores and going into the health care business. It would be nice to see them blow up the broken health care system like they did retail. I think Wal-Mart has it about right: if government is so worried about health care costs why not do something about our broken health care system instead

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Don't look now, but the BIG dog just entered the room

After some recent stinging defeats in California (where voters in LA and San Diego suburbs approved measures to prevent Wal-Mart from opening super centers in their communities) Wal-Mart has more than doubled its spending (over $3 million so far this year) on political elections in the state. In addition to supporting candidates for local office favorable to Wal-Mart expansion, there is the matter of Proposition 72, which would require all employers in the state to provide health insurance to workers (side note: why does anyone do business in California?) Wal-Mart predictably has become the poster-child for those in favor of Prop 72, who cite a “study” by union-supported hacks (more about that here) that claim that poor Wal-Mart workers cost the state millions in public-funded health insurance. This fight will be interesting to watch.

AFL-CIO website on Wal-Mart

In their continuing drum-beat against the “Wal-Martization” of America, the AFL-CIO has launched a new website called walmartcostsyou.com. It is the usual litany of complaints about the world’s largest employer, especially that it pays sub-standard (i.e. less than the monopoly rents negotiated with unionized competitors) wages and that many of its “full-time” workers earn poverty-level wages. The statistics are VERY suspect - their wage claims compare 2001 wage “data” (anecdotal) with 2002 or 2003 poverty data, use single wage-earner for a family of three statistics and then extrapolate their numbers assuming that all Wal-Mart workers are in this category, and assume that all workers only work the minimum number of hours to be classified as “full-time” under Wal-Mart’s benefit eligibility rules. They also neglect to analyze how many current Wal-Mart workers would not have ANY job if it weren’t for Wal-Mart (I bet their analysis of the public

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