I wrote about Wal-Mart’s attempt to “educate” their employees about the risks of voting for Obama this year, and it seems like the labor unions have taken note too.
In a letter to be delivered as early as Thursday, the labor groups are asking the Federal Election Commission to determine whether the company “made prohibited corporate expenditures” by organizing meetings across the country to warn employees that a Democratic president would back legislation known as the Employee Free Choice Act, which the company opposes. The groups say such statements amount to advocating the defeat of Sen. Barack Obama, the presumptive Democratic nominee, in the November election.
It does seem like Wal-Mart is in a bit of a pickle here, because now the Wall Street Journal has a recording of one of these meetings…
Meanwhile, new details are emerging that show Wal-Mart managers leading the meetings are spreading inaccurate information about the Employee Free Choice Act, according to a digital recording of a Wal-Mart meeting made by a Wal-Mart employee and reviewed by the Journal.
In the hour-and-a-half meeting, held for managers in a Southern state, the leader tells employees that their wages may be reduced to minimum wage for up to three months before a contract is negotiated, that union authorization cards violate workers’ right to privacy by including their Social Security numbers on them and that if a small unit within a store votes to unionize, the entire store will be unionized.
Wal-Mart contends that those specific points (minimum wage, Social Security and a small number unionzing a bigger number) weren’t included in their training.
Here’s more of their defense…
According to the recording, the meeting leader, a human-resources manager, began by saying she was going to talk about the company and unions and “a little bit of politics,” specifically the Employee Free Choice Act. The leader said that the bill almost passed last year. “If Democrats get the votes they need and elect a Democratic president, they said it will be the first bill presented and that’s scary,” she said. […]
Wal-Mart’s Mr. Tovar said the meeting leader’s use of the word scary was “unauthorized.”
Sure, maybe that human resources manager made up three separate points on his or her own. But how many times have you ran into human resources folks who shoot from the hip? Especially in a company like Wal-Mart, that seems hard to believe. Of course, it is possible and this could be an isolated incident.
I’ll have more as it develops…