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The Detroit Free-Press reports that lawsuits are on the books in some 30 states charging Wal-Mart with widespread wage abuses of its workforce. The suits claim that “Wal-Mart holds labor costs down by forcing employees to work through breaks, and before or after their shifts. The lawsuits also allege that Wal-Mart doctors time cards to avoid paying overtime, and keeps clocked-out, graveyard shift employees locked in the stores until a manager lets them out.”

Wal-Mart denies the charges, and is vigorously defending itself in all the cases. A company spokesman told the paper, “Our associates are central to our business success, and it makes no sense from a business standpoint to mistreat or cheat the people we depend upon to provide the service our customers expect.”
KC's View:
Obviously, Wal-Mart has a long history of wrangling with the unions, and these cases are just more evidence that this ongoing battle is unlikely to subside anytime soon.

For the unions, unionization of Wal-Mart’s employees is the big pot of gold at the end of the rainbow; for Wal-Mart, it may be a fate worse than death.

We keep wondering if the bigger downside for Wal-Mart isn’t these specific kinds of court cases, but the ultimate problem of some sort of Congressional investigation into the company that might take on Microsoft-style proportions. It wouldn’t be good for the image or the bottom line, but we suspect that this has to be a long-term concern for the retailer.

By the way, this is the first of several Wal-Mart mentions in today’s MNB. Don’t shoot the messenger, those of you who believe we should mention Wal-Mart as little as possible in this space…we can’t help it if the world’s biggest retailer happens to be in the news a lot today!