By Elizabeth MacDonald Emac’s Bottom LinePublished November 23, 2012FOXBusiness, REUTERS
Wal-Mart (WMT) protests have broken out at dozens of stores across the country, but lost in the commotion is the reality of the work life at Wal-Mart — and what the Bentonville, Arkansas mega retailer saw happen with unions at Hostess Brands, maker of Twinkies and Ding Dongs, now in bankruptcy liquidation.
It would be a coup for the union movement to get “Big Labor” in the door at the nation’s biggest retailer, which employs about as many people as are on active duty in the U.S. military. The union attacks have picked up in intensity as Wal-Mart has moved out of the non-union south to build stores in pro-union cities, such as in the northeast.
The Wal-Mart protests are timed for Black Friday, which Wal-Mart calls the “super bowl of shopping;” but they’ve mostly been a non-event.
Wal-Mart U.S Chief executive Bill Simon said in a statement: “Only 26 protests occurred at stores last night and many of them did not include any Wal-Mart associates,” adding, “We estimate that less than 50 associates participated in the protest nationwide … about the same number of associates [who] missed their scheduled shift as last year.”
Here’s the reality. The facts are, many workers come looking for jobs at Wal-Mart from heavily unionized grocery stores and supermarkets, where they get paid much less in the way of benefits, and where labor infractions and on-the-job injuries are significant. Wal-Mart has said about a third of the company’s hires come from other grocers or places like McDonald’s (MCD), in search of better wages and benefits.