Wal-Mart, Labor Unions, and China
Wal-Mart does not allow labor unions in its stores in the United States. Here is its explanation why, taken from their web page:
A Walmart labor union is redundant because we firmly believe in developing an environment of amicable relations and promoting a free expression of the ideas, comments, and concerns of our associates.In China, the government has forced Wal-Mart to accept unions. Maybe this is a defeat in name only because unions in China are known to side with management, according to Berkeley economist Harley Shaiken.
Official Union Set Up in China at Wal-Mart
By DAVID LAGUE
Published: July 31, 2006
BEIJING, July 30 — Workers at Wal-Mart Stores have formed their first trade union in China, after demands from the government that the company allow organized labor in its stores, according to reports in the official news media over the weekend.
Wal-Mart, the world’s largest retailer, has long sought to bar unions from its stores, particularly in the United States. But the government-controlled All-China Federation of Trade Unions has campaigned to set up branches in China, where Wal-Mart employs 30,000 people at 60 outlets.
Any new union in China is unlikely to resemble its counterparts in the West. Labor activists often accuse the tightly controlled All-China Federation of siding with management rather than workers...
Harley Shaiken, a labor economist at the University of California, Berkeley, said that China’s state-backed unions were known for supporting, rather than challenging, foreign corporations...
“The union will likely be quite compliant with management,” Mr. Shaiken said. “There might be a nudge now and again, but the union structure is designed to encourage this investment, not to challenge it.” ...
Of the 15 countries in which the company owns work sites, she said, some Wal-Mart employees in Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, Britain and Germany are union members. The United States is the “clear exception,” where no employees are union members, she added.