Thursday, July 21, 2005

Wal-Mart and Organized Labor

Juan Gonzales writes today in the Daily News about the looming potential schism in the AFL-CIO unless current president John Sweeney agrees to some substantial changes. The dissident unions, calling themselves the Change to Win Coalition, are pointing to the drastic decline in union membership and the impact of Walmartization on the country’s entire workforce.

It is important to note that the impact of Wal-Mart goes way beyond its own practices or even the fact that imitators like BJ’s assiduously ape the behemoth’s labor philosophy. Put simply, the Wal-Mart business model has become the dominant one in the entire retail industry and, with the decline in industrial employment, has come to dominate the employment practices of many American businesses.

That is why the fight against Wal-Mart can never be seen simply as a battle against particular sites. As the New Republic reports, Wal-Mart opponents, led by the UFCW and SEIU, are taking the fight to Washington. The effective battle against Wal-Mart must be a political one that de-legitimizes the company’s business model.