Last month, we asked: “Why Is WalMart Mysteriously Shuttering Stores Nationwide For Plumbing Issues?” The story, which has since gone viral, goes like this. WalMart inexplicably closed five geographically distinct locations across the US, citing persistent plumbing issues. These pesky “clogs and leaks” are apparently so endemic at the shuttered stores that they will need to remain closed for at least six months.
Needless to say, the 2,200 or so employees whose jobs ‘went down the drain’ so to speak were skeptical given that no one had seen any evidence that the plumbing was indeed bad and considering the fact that WalMart gave them virtually no notice whatsoever before closing the stores. Local media quickly picked up on the issue and discovered that no plumbing permits had been filed in any of the cities where the stores were closed and the LA Times subsequently discovered that at one location, the Pico Rivera WalMart in California, $500,000 in renovations had been completed in the previous year including plumbing repairs.
As it turns out, the Pico Rivera location isn’t just any old WalMart. In fact, as we documented in “Did WalMart Close A California Store To Punish Employees Who Protested Labor And Working Conditions?”, the store’s employees have been at the forefront of pickets, walkouts, sit-ins, protests, and various and sundry other demonstrations aimed at raising awareness about working conditions and management’s retaliatory tendencies when it comes to workers who escalate concerns. These demonstrators have enjoyed the support of The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union who last year prevailed in a Canadian Supreme Court case stemming from a 2004 incident in which the company closed a Quebec store after employees voted for representation by the union. Now, the UFCW is seeking a labor board injunction in connection with the plumbing incident.
Now, a “New Associate Orientation” video has surfaced. In the nine minute clip (entitled “Protect Your Signature”) WalMart patiently explains to new hires why unions are bad.
Regardless of your stance on organized labor, it’s difficult to describe the video as anything other than a hilariously transparent (and poorly acted) piece of propaganda. The video is below (along with the Spanish version for our bilingual audience), but here are some highlights.
The clip begins with an attractive female associate who assures new employees that “the people in this store are a second family to me” before claiming that “there’s no retailer who offers more job security than WalMart” (until the ‘plumbing’ breaks that is).
Fast forward to the 3:00 mark and a friendly-looking male associate tells you that despite any misgivings you may be having about what was invariably a necessity-driven decision to work at WalMart, “you made a great choice and the company is glad you’re here.”
The associate then issues a dire warning: “But the reality is, you’re not the only one looking to get your foot in the door. Labor unions are really interested in WalMart.”
What follows are five straight minutes of brazen anti-union rhetoric including the following highly amusing soundbites:
From the male associate:
“Our company is the first to have open and direct communication with our associates.”
“We don’t think a labor union is necessary here and because our associates have said time after time that they don’t want a union, we usually don’t spend a lot of time talking about it.”
From a second female associate:
“I don’t get it, how would it make any sense for our associates to join a union that wants to damage our reputation?”
“The truth is, unions are businesses that make their money by convincing people like you and me to give them a part of our paychecks.”
“At WalMart, employees are used to having their voice heard — for free.”
From a supposedly semi-retired part-time associate who apparently works in the stock room:
“Believe me, joining a union isn’t something I EVER want to do again.”
Then it’s back to the first associate who talks with union members "all the time":
“Union members shop at our stores. I talk to them all the time and I hear them complain about their jobs.”
And summing things up is associate number two again who doesn’t understand why, with “all he’s got at WalMart” he would ever want organized labor:
“With everything I’ve got here, I’m not willing to trade it for a union.”