Saturday, October 16, 2010

And so marks the beginning of the end

of Weyburn's Walmart store:

CBC News - Saskatchewan - Wal-Mart union in Weyburn, Sask., upheld

It's rather simple, there are two narratives that can be played out here:

1) The union negotiates exactly the same wages and benefits as all the other Walmart employees throughout Canada get, or

2) The store closes and 75 people are out of jobs.

Simple as that, but let's elaborate the reason why.

Walmart is an international chain, with stores all across Canada and the United States. While there are local variances for wage levels, it provides its employees with wage and benefit packages better than some unions can get for their members. It is said that the presence of a Walmart in your town generally benefits the average household to the tune of $1200 per year, but for the average Walmart worker, they get an additional 10% off virtually everything that Walmart sells.

Now let's follow the reasoning. If 1 store unionizes, then Walmart has to negotiate with the union, statutorily. If the union gets any additional benefit from Walmart than is already offered, then the jig is up - it's a precedent that is set that unions can use to organize in every other Walmart store in North America. This would cost Walmart additional dollars and may actually cause a reduction in the total benefit package as unions start focusing on their usual suspects - wages and health benefits - at the expense of other benefits like stock option plans and employee discounts. If this happens, 1 of 2 things will happen - either Walmart increases its prices to compensate for the increased costs (reducing the benefit that it brings to the community as a whole, see above) or it determines that the store will soon become unprofitable and close it (reducing the benefit to the community as a whole).

Walmart has set precedent by closing a store that has unionized. Jonquiere, Quebec closed several years ago after its employees voted signed cards to unionize. There are stores within a 60 minute drive of the Weyburn store. Same with the Moose Jaw store. And the North Battleford store. Walmart wouldn't think twice about sacrificing closing any of these stores if it means that it doesn't have to extend further benefits or embolden other union drives through the company's chain. It's a simple fact: a rape victim is entitled to escape if given the opportunity - why do we think any less of corporations who do the same?


  1. Stupid people . . . voluntarily giving a union money to "help" them.

    The only people unions help are union managers.

  2. The best outcome would be Situation 1, but minus 15% of their wages for the union bosses.

  3. I hope the store closes. Wal-Mart should not abide a cancerous union in any of its stores anywhere.

  4. probably shouldn't compare unionization of walmart to rape. You had me up until that point.

  5. Actually Dante, it may be extreme but it's also apt. Shall we use robbery instead? Unfortunately a robbery victim can't do anything to help themselves (see chinese convenience store owner in Toronto) and a murder victim can't stop anything after the act.

  6. What is the upside to keeping a unionized store open? What do they expect?

  7. The unions expect that the company will just give the workers a "fair" wage, whatever that actually means.

    Personally I've seen a few unionized workers who get waaaaaay more than I would consider a fair wage. Too bad I can only fund their salaries, not fire them.

  8. That Wal-Mart will probably be gone just after Christmas.

  9. That's odd you're worried about poor Wal-Mart. I suppose as a corporation they are legally a person so we need to be nice and respect them as an individual/institution. What about all the businesses that have talent Wal-Mart drives out? A lot of time the local economy and community suffers cause they don't want to contribute to taxes (Wal-Mart). Wal-Mart also likes to do this thing where they lower prices reeeeal low at the beginning, "put Mom and Pop business out of business" (quote: Sam Walton)and then bring up their prices again. Then the town bows to Wal-Mart and the community/schools et cetera suffer. When they leave it turns into a ghost town cause they previously monopolized. Unless they are near an interstate it usually doesn't help. People often spend more at Wal-Marts too. Try to be fair next time. I'd appreciate that heartless corporate-lover.

  10. Really? Five years later and Weyburn is a ghost town?

    Actually, I'm going to make a correction because I come from Weyburn originally. A ghost town is what Weyburn was BEFORE Walmart came to town. Vacant buildings on Main Street, a mall where the anchor tenant was the lowest brand on HBC's department store chain and people would think nothing of traveling an hour to get to a Walmart and spending money at many other retailers in those centers as well.

    Now, the mall has the Co-op as the anchor tenant, every store front on main street is filled with those "mom and pops" that you despair for, and as a result of the presence of Walmart, there are more shopping choices than ever in the city. Walmart is keeping more dollars in that community than it is stealing away - what do you think will be the effect if Walmart closes its doors because it becomes too costly for Walmart to operate that store?

    And for the record, you're connotating "Corporate-lover" as if that is a bad thing. Without large corporations, RodanDunlap, you would be scratching a subsistence out of a small parcel of land with barely time to think of anything other than where tomorrow's meal will come from. Large corporations have in the past, and will continue to in the future, raise more people out of poverty than any other structure in history. You deride corporations, I wear your derision like a badge of honor.

  11. "Actually, I'm going to make a correction because I come from Weyburn originally. A ghost town is what Weyburn was BEFORE Walmart came to town."

    I came here to say exactly this. Talking about all the businesses that Wal-mart drives out is just fear-mongering plain and simple.

  12. The tragedy is that Unions are necessary to have a balance between demand and supply of workforce.. All they do is upset that balance by artificially decreasing supply (strike). Wallmart is thus correct.