business news in context, analysis with attitude

Last week, we reported on how Walmart unexpectedly closed five stores - two in Texas, and one each in California, Florida and Oklahoma - and laid off 2200 employees, citing consistent plumbing problems in the stores that required extended repairs. The stores could be closed as long as six months, the company said ... though there was more than a little speculation that Walmart had closed only stores where there seemed to be higher levels of union organizing activity.

Walmart denied that allegation.

Now, the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) is going to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), seeking an injunction that would force Walmart to rehire all the workers. The UFCW continues to press the claim that union activity, not bad plumbing, was the cause of the layoffs and store shutdowns.

The New York Times writes that the union says that "the closings were in retaliation for a history of labor activism at one of the shuttered stores, in Pico Rivera, Calif. Workers say they have received no guarantees that they will be hired back.

"The Pico Rivera store was the site of the first strike at a Walmart store in the United States, in 2012, organized by a workers’ group backed by the union. The strike was over pay and working conditions for the retailer’s hourly wage workers. Since then, store employees have led actions demanding changes to Walmart’s hours and pregnancy policies, access to full-time, consistent work and at least $15 an hour in pay for workers at the retailer’s 4,500 stores across the country."

A Walmart spokesman, Lorenzo Lopez, tells the Times, “We don’t believe there is a basis for an injunction that would interfere with our efforts to repair the serious plumbing issues at the five stores.”
KC's View:
And he said it with a straight face, too.

Actually, I have no idea if these Walmarts have plumbing problems or union problems.

Either could be true.

I am, of course, reminded of a movie. Remember how, the the very first Star Wars, Grand Moff Tarkin uses the Death Star to destroy Alderaan? He doesn't have to do it, but Tarkin doe sit anyway, just to prove he can, and that the Empire should be taken seriously by the Rebel Alliance.

Maybe Walmart is the Empire in this metaphor, and in fact has caused a great disturbance in the Force. Or maybe it just has severe plumbing problems in five stores.

But let's not forget that Walmart has been judged guilty of using its super laser to destroy a planet before ... in Canada, years ago, where it closed a store that it said that was unproductive, though there was a legal finding that it actually shut down the unit to make a point to the Rebel Alliance...I mean, to its union-supportive employees.