Wal-Mart Worker’s Death Seen As Reason to Embrace the Union Agenda
December 3, 2008 - 10:28 AMA pro-union group is suggesting that the death of a temporary worker at a Long Island Wal-Mart on Black Friday stems partly from the fact that Wal-Mart workers are not unionized.
Wal-Mart Watch, a group that includes a union leader on its board of directors, issued a press release on Tuesday responding to the death of the worker who was trampled when the store opened and the crowd surged in.
While Jdimytai Damour’s death was a “tragic accident,” it also reflects Wal-Mart’s “blatant disregard for the concern and safety of its workers and customers,” said David Nassar, executive director of Wal-Mart Watch.
Wal-Mart Watch describes itself as a “public education campaign” aimed at changing Wal-Mart so it embraces its “moral responsibility.”
On Tuesday, Nassar blasted Wal-Mart for refusing to change: Wal-Mart workers like Mr. Damour “have no voice and no seat at the table to determine how they are treated,” he said.
"Wal-Mart's stubbornness makes the Employee Free Choice Act the next best alternative,” Nassar said. “The legislation will make it easier for workers to form unions should they choose to do so -- and more difficult for Wal-Mart to thwart the process, which it has done time and time again.”
According to Nassar, "Workers should have had a voice in setting policy for Black Friday operations across the country. We believe that if they had, it is doubtful that an untrained, temporary worker with little support would have been required to hold back 2,000 customers, putting employees' lives at risk and ultimately ending in tragedy."
Passage of the Employee Free Choice Act is a priority for labor unions, which supported Democrat Barack Obama for president.
But Republican lawmakers say opposition is mounting to the bill that would replace secret ballots in the workplace with a “card check” process for forming unions.
Under a card check, union organizers and bosses would collect authorization cards purportedly signed by workers expressing their desire for a union to represent them, but critics say the process leaves workers vulnerable to coercion, pressure, intimidation and threats, either from management or unions.
On Tuesday, House Republican Leader John Boehner (Ohio) noted that the USA Today editorial board has weighed in against card checks: “It is hard to see how ending the secret ballot would do much besides initiating campaigns of subtle, and not so subtle, intimidation,” the newspaper board wrote.
Boehner, in a news release issued on Tuesday, warned that Democrats are about to strip American workers of “one of the fundamental rights afforded under our democracy…the right to a secret ballot.”
“The Democrats’ move to end secret ballot elections in the workplace is not going unnoticed – or unopposed,” he said. “The USA Today editorial board is just the latest to rise in opposition to the Democratic Majority’s decidedly undemocratic plan to strip workers of this time-honored right…”
Under the current system, union elections are decided by a secret ballot vote and monitored by the National Labor Relations Board. Boehner has pledged that he and his House Republican colleagues will “do everything we can to stop” the Employee Free Choice Act from becoming law.