business news in context, analysis with attitude

• The Financial Times reports that Walmart, long anti-union in the US, “has completed collective bargaining agreements with unions in two Chinese cities.” The story notes that the retailer was under pressure from the government to make the deals, since the unions are actually government-approved.

However, FT also notes that “the agreement in Shenyang locks in an 8 per cent pay rise both this year and next for Wal-Mart employees, a company spokesman and union officials told the Financial Times on Thursday. By comparison the average hourly wage in Wal-Mart’s US stores, which are not unionised, has risen 12 per cent since January 2005, from $9.68 to $10.86 … Employees in Quanzhou, who formed the first Walmart union in August 2006, secured a similar increase in an agreement signed on Wednesday. More than 48,500 people work at 105 Wal-Mart stores across China. All have been unionised over the past two years and their representatives are negotiating collective contracts with management.”

KC's View:
I read about Walmart making union deals, and I can't help but think of this exchange from “Ghostbusters” (1984)…

Dr. Peter Venkman: “This city is headed for a disaster of biblical proportions.”

Mayor: “What do you mean, ‘biblical’?”

Dr. Ray Stantz: “What he means is Old Testament, Mr. Mayor, real wrath of God type stuff.”

Dr. Peter Venkman: “Exactly”

Dr. Ray Stantz: “Fire and brimstone coming down from the skies! Rivers and seas boiling!”

Dr. Egon Spengler: “Forty years of darkness! Earthquakes, volcanoes...”

Winston Zeddemore: “The dead rising from the grave…”

Dr. Peter Venkman: “Dogs and cats living together…mass hysteria!”

When Walmart makes deals with unions, there’s something strange in the neighborhood…