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Saturday, February 26, 2005

LOVELAND, Colo., Feb. 25 - Joshua Noble, a 21-year-old who loves to snowboard, jolted Wal-Mart Stores last November when he got a majority of employees here at the Wal-Mart tire-and-lube shop where he worked to sign statements saying they wanted to vote on bringing in a labor union.

The unionization drive begun by Mr. Noble created a storm in this onetime ranching town at the foot of the Rockies - even the BBC covered it - and became a closely watched test of labor's efforts to unionize the world's largest retailer.

But on Friday the workers at the Wal-Mart Tire & Lube Express abandoned Mr. Noble, voting 17 to 1 against unionizing, another setback for organized labor at the very moment when its leaders are mapping a campaign to pressure the company to improve wages and benefits.

With Friday's vote, Wal-Mart can continue to say that not one of its 1.2 million American workers belongs to a union. Support for organizing dissipated here after the company repeatedly showed workers videos about what were portrayed as the shortcomings of unions, and transferred into the shop six new workers who, Mr. Noble said, had been screened by the company to ensure their antiunion sentiment.

Okay, so Wal-Mart squashes the unions again, no big surprise. What is surprising is the really, REALLY obvious lengths they'll go to in the process of keeping the unions out of their stores. Employees were subjected to multiple daily screenings of anti-union videos, phone calls from store execs debasing and ridiculing unions and the transfer in of anti-union Wal-Mart employees to dilute the vote.

Really, really scary. Not Wal-Mart's reluctance to be forced to treat their workers like human beings, but that the cudchewers working there seem to be willing to believe that Wal-Mart has the interests of their employees at heart when they say "that unions only want workers' dues, that they cannot guarantee better wages or benefits, that they want to put Wal-Mart out of business, that they foment walkouts in which the strikers can lose their jobs."

Y'know, if people are willing to buy that (and a 17-to-1 vote against would seem to indicate that it was bought quite handily), then maybe they don't deserve unions, or fair business practices or laws to protect worker's rights. Maybe, really, the working class in America (or at least 1.2 million of 'em) needs to lose their workman's comp, their minimum wage, their overtime laws, their basic, basic Federally mandated rights as workers and get thrown back into the days of serfdom & child labor. Maybe that's what we need, y'know? The same conditions that got unions going in the first place need to reappear, get the spark going. American workers think, I believe, that they've got it really good, that they're covered, that nobody is going to let them fall. I think maybe they need to have the pins kicked out from beneath them, and understand that there's no truth AT ALL to that thought, and that if they don't stand up for themselves, there's nobody else out there who really gives a fuck.

Anyway, that's it. The Free Market Cowboys win another round, and the great unwashed lose another little piece of their laughably incomplete rights.

Ah, fuck 'em, right?

Bah.


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