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The New York Times reports this morning that the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) union is mounting an “all-out assault” on Wal-Mart, focusing on almost 100 stores in 20 states in an effort to unionize the famously anti-union discounter.

The NYT writes that the UFCW “has hired disaffected managers as organizers and created a radio show and Web site that lambaste Wal-Mart's working conditions. The union tells Wal-Mart workers that it can increase their wages, which average less than $9 an hour and $18,000 a year, and improve their health coverage and lower their premiums by getting Wal-Mart to contribute more.”

It is accurately reported by the NYT that the UFCW has only been successful in organizing Wal-Mart employees once -- in the butcher department of a Texas store, a department that was eliminated two weeks later.

Wal-Mart executives say that they are able to stay non-union not through unfair labor tactics, but by taking care of their employees and paying competitive wages.

“Over the last four years, the National Labor Relations Board has filed more than 40 complaints against Wal-Mart, accusing managers in more than two dozen stores of illegal practices, including improperly firing union supporters, intimidating workers and threatening to deny bonuses if workers unionized,” the NYT writes. “Of those, the board found illegal practices in 10 cases; 8 cases were settled and the rest are pending.”
KC's View:
The chains that compete with Wal-Mart must have mixed emotions when reading stories like there. On the one hand, they don’t wish for any strides to be made by the UFCW…but on the other, a unionized Wal-Mart probably wouldn’t have as much of a price advantage as a non-union Wal-Mart.

We honestly don’t have a prediction about how this will all turn out…at least, not one that we’re supremely confident in.

It seems hard to imagine that Wal-Mart will be able to stay non-union forever. But Wal-Mart is very good at doing a lot of things that are hard to imagine, so we wouldn’t bet against the Bentonville behemoth.