Presumably, those supervisors and managers would pass on the message to hourly workers - a violation of federal labor law. Ironically, much of the media was aghast at this intimidation and the blatant manipulation of Wal-Mart employees' most basic decision in a democracy - who to choose to represent and lead our country.
Ironically, because Wal-Mart routinely uses this kind of intimidation and manipulation and much more hard-edged retaliation every time any one or more of their workers thinks about or begins a discussion about whether to form a union.
In fact, at the first hint of union activity or discussion, 15 members of a Wal-Mart anti-union "hit" team get on a private jet in Bentonville, AR, to fly to the store and use intimidation, threats and firings to stop the union activity immediately.
Wal-Mart is America's best known corporate bully. They have bullied small towns across the heartland. They've bullied small businesses, pushing many out of business. They bully their suppliers and vendors. They've long bullied their workers. Now they are bullying their supervisors and managers. Most importantly and most dangerously, they are bullying America's political system.
But they are not alone. It is now a routine and accepted practice for America's employers and corporations to do anything to stop their workers from freely forming unions. Firing worker leaders, threatening to fire others, threatening to close or move worksite, changing shifts, moving union supporters to harder jobs, cutting hours, even physical intimidation, are now commonly used arrows in the quiver of American companies and anti-worker consultants. And American labor law and the federal agency designed to enforce it, the National Labor Relations Board, are powerless to stop them.
American labor law is broken, and it is hurting workers, our economy and our society. Wal-Mart's behavior is the best example of just how badly we need the Employee Free Choice Act, legislation that would allow workers to form union without fear of retaliation. Alone, no worker has the power to stand up to a massive corporate bully.
But it is not just individual workers who suffer. Our society and our economy suffer as well.
As the economists and pundits debate whether we are technically in a recession or just headed for one, the living standards of American workers are dropping faster than George Bush's approval ratings.
- In 1980, the average American CEO made 40 times as much money as the average worker. Today it is 500 times more than the average worker.
- There are 20% more Americans living in poverty today than at the end of the last century when Bush took office.
- We have 47 million Americans without health care - more than in 1965 before we created Medicare.
And while our productivity has increased by 75% since 1973, our wages have stagnated, flatlined, even declined.
All this tracks very closely to the 30-year corporate and government assault on workers and their unions, collective bargaining and the freedom of America's workers to join and form them.
So rather than just send all of us a one-time stimulus check that most of us just passed on to the banks and credit card companies, the Congress and the President must take serious, fundamental and real action to strengthen the economy by restoring our right to bargain for better wages and benefits with our employers.
The Employee Free Choice Act will do that.
The Employee Free Choice Act will do three simple and common-sensical things:
1. It will impose real penalties on employers who violate federal labor law. Today there are no effective penalties.
2. Once workers form a union, it will ensure that they are able to win a union contract by allowing them to seek neutral mediation and arbitration if the employer refuses to bargain in good faith.
3. The Employee Free Choice Act will allow workers to join or form a union as easily as the employer can join the Chamber of Commerce - simply by signing a card or petition. And when 50% plus one sign up, the union is established.
We cannot solve America's economic problems by squeezing the middle class, forcing more and more Americans into poverty and further weakening buying and spending power. We must empower workers to form unions, bargain with their employers for the dignity of the middle class, and rebuild the greatest economic engine in history, the American labor movement and America's middle class.
Senator Barack Obama has promised to do just this.