Retail giant Wal-Mart (WMT) is no stranger to problems with labor relations. The company has come under fire many times over the past few years due to its treatment of employees, and is once again in the middle of a labor dispute that could have a serious impact on its holiday sales season.
A group calling themselves Our Wal-Mart is organizing protests at hundreds of Wal-Mart stores this week, a move that could hit the company hard on the always-busy Black Friday, when frenzied shoppers fight each other for the best deals around.
Wal-Mart could easily have bettered its public image if it had decided to work with employees to reach some sort of arrangement, but instead it appears to be taking a different approach. Instead of assuming any responsibility for its employees’ frustrations, it is instead shifting the blame to unions.
Wal-Mart has long battled its employees’ desire to unionize, but it took things to another level this time, filing a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board. The company is contending that the recent uprising is a result of a union-financed, union-orchestrated effort and is not representative of the feelings of the majority of Wal-Mart employees.
Wal-Mart could have used this current turn of events to change its public image, but instead it appears to be using its size and strength in an attempt to bully its employees to accept business as usual at its stores. It remains to be seen how many employees will participate in this week’s protests, or what impact they will have on Black Friday sales… but regardless of the impact, Wal-Mart has once again proven the lack of respect that it has for its more than 2 million employees.
Michael Fowlkes is a financial writer who has been with the Fresh Brewed Media family since 2004. Over the course of his tenure with Fresh Brewed Media, he has worn many hats, including portfolio manager, options analyst, and writer. Michael received his undergraduate degree from Virginia Tech in Accounting and got his start in finance working as a stock trader for six years at Chase Investment Counsel in Charlottesville, Va. His articles typically cover big-picture events and forecasting what impact they will have on the stock market. In addition to writing for Fresh Brewed Media, Michael also wrote for AOL's BloggingStocks for three years, focusing most of his attention on the energy and technology sectors.