By Laura Clawson
Constant vigilance is one of Walmart’s major strategies against worker organization, and store managers are the front-line defense. Managers are trained intensively on how to recognize and respond to signs that workers might join together to fight Walmart’s lousy wages and working conditions—and now Occupy Wall Street has posted leaked documents showing just how managers are trained.
One document extensively details Walmart’s views on OUR Walmart and the United Food and Commercial Workers; as Hamilton Nolan sums that up:
The company’s primary argument is an old one: unions only want to organize workers in order toreap more dues. (The dues that workers would pay, by the way, are a big $5 per month.) This is a case of a corporation mistaking a union’s motives for those of a corporation. It also conveniently elides Walmart’s own motivation in arguing against unions so vociferously: Walmart wants to reap more profits, by paying workers as poorly as possible.
But more interesting is the document training managers how to walk the fine line between failing to adequately convey that Walmart thinks unions are no-good, bad, terrible things and breaking labor law by threatening ot interrogating workers. The bottom line:
In the event any of this happens, managers are supposed to notify Walmart’s labor relations hotline. And, of course, share their personal individual views that unions suck and Walmart workers totally don’t need unions because they can use the “open door policy” to share their concerns with a manager one on one; as Occupy Wall Street notes, “the ‘open door’ is closed to groups who wish to raise issues together and is one way Walmart seeks to deal with people individually, instead of collectively in a stronger group.” That’s representative of all of the training managers receive, which is dedicated to sniffing out and squashing workers’ efforts to join together before they gain strength.
While Walmart’s training scrupulously identifies what is and isn’t legal when it comes to management intimidating workers away from organizing, in practice Walmart often engages inillegal intimidation and retaliation. Which is the real point of having managers call the labor relations hotline to report if workers stop talking when their boss enters the room.