11.23.2012 1

Walmart Fights UFCW to Keep Black Friday from Going Dark

Guest post from UFCWMonitor.com

For months, the UFCW and their subsidiary group, OUR Walmart, have been making noises that they’ll be striking at Walmarts across the country during arguably the biggest retail day of the whole year- Black Friday.

Now Walmart is finally fighting fire with fire, and taking legal action against the UFCW:

Wal-Mart filed an unfair labor practice charge against the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, or UFCW, asking the National Labor Relations Board to halt what the retailer says are unlawful attempts to disrupt its business.

The move comes just a week before what is expected to be the largest organized action against the world’s largest retailer, as a small group of Walmart workers prepare to strike on Black Friday, typically the busiest shopping day of the year.

The response from the NLRB is expected to come sooner rather than later, as Black Friday is imminently approaching, and the impact on Walmart sales could be drastic.

UFCW’s approach here seems to fit the “we hate you, so join us” attitude that we’ve written on extensively here. In this approach, the UFCW is threatening to cut Walmart where it hurts- their bottom line. Rather than negotiating for better wages or making their case in the court of public opinion, they

However, as we’ve seen, this approach does not work well in practice. For all of the previous attempts the UFCW has made to unionize America’s largest employer, Walmart has yet to unionize any of their stores, or even change their attitude towards unionization. But rather than change course, the UFCW has instead decided to double down on attacking the employer.

This is a particularly bad strategy- not only because it only seems to fuel the animosity Walmart has for the UFCW, but because it also hurts the very employees the UFCW claims they are trying to help. Right now, the U.S. economy is not in a particularly good spot, and people are clamoring for whatever jobs they can get.

When a company has a significant loss of revenue, they’re less likely to be able to use that revenue to promote their employees, increase their employee’s benefits, or be able to retain employees especially in a down economy. But by undermining the company’s chief source of revenue, we see a key contradiction between the UFCW’s stated goals of helping employees and their real goals of unionizing more companies at any cost.

One of the origins of the phrase “Black Friday” comes from the accounting practice of using red ink for deficit revenue  and black ink for positive revenue- the Friday after Thanksgiving would the first day some companies would be “into the black,” or finally making a profit for the year. By undermining Walmart, the UFCW is showing their real colors- they don’t mind if the company doesn’t make a profit, as long as they keep getting their dues money from workers to finance their lavish lifestyles.

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