Anti-WalMart Groups Aren't What They Appear To Be

WalMart is in the news again. Or rather, should I say anti-WalMart groups are in the news....again..

While I can understand why some folks might not like seeing a WalMart in their community, for the most part families like seeing them because they know they mean lower costs for many of the things they need and use every day. They also mean jobs.

Many of the anti-WalMart groups try to demonize WalMart, claiming they don't pay a living wage even though they pay between $7 and $12 an hour, with an average wage of $10 an hour. But whenever WalMart opens a new store they have applicants many times the number of jobs available. If WalMart is so terrible to work for then how do they fill all of the jobs? The answer is that it is only in the eyes of the anti-WalMart groups that they are so terrible.

Who are these groups? Not the grassroots you might think they are. Instead, they are groups funded by the labor unions. Who says so? The Wall Street Journal, for one. (Subscription required)

Wal-Mart may be expanding in the People's Republic of China, but here in capitalist America the low-price retailer has become the Democratic Party's favorite piƱata. The media like to portray this as a populist uprising against heartless big business. But what they don't bother to disclose is that this entire get-Wal-Mart campaign is a political operation led and funded by organized labor.

We've done a little digging into the two most prominent anti-Wal-Mart groups, and they might as well operate out of AFL-CIO headquarters. An outfit called Wal-Mart Watch was created by the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), probably the most powerful union in America after the National Education Association. Wal-Mart Watch is backed by Five Stones, a 501(c)3 organization that received $2,775,000 in 2005 from the SEIU, or 56% of its $5 million budget. According to financial records, SEIU also gave Five Stones $1 million in 2004 to launch the anti-Wal-Mart group, and SEIU president Andy Stern is the Wal-Mart Watch chairman.

A second group, Wake Up Wal-Mart, is more or less a subsidiary of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW). Wake Up Wal-Mart refuses to divulge its funding sources, but here is what we do know: The group was founded by the UFCW, is housed at UFCW headquarters, and its campaign director's $135,000 salary is paid by the UFCW.

And that's only a few of the unions funding a number of anti-WalMart organizations.

Union membership has been declining for years as the original reason for the unions existence has been replaced by fair labor laws and other government protections for workers of all kinds. In some cases union pay is no better and, in some cases, worse than non-union wages. But that has given the labor unions incentive to make attempts at unionizing formerly non-union occupations.

One of their biggest targets has been WalMart. Never mind the fact that WalMart tends to pay higher than many of the unionized store chains. Big Labor wants a piece of WalMart's pie, seeing a potential payoff of hundreds of millions of dollars in union dues. And those extra funds can be used to pay lobbyists to push forward legislation that would benefit unions at the expense of non-union workers.

I don't know about you, but that smacks of mob-like extortion to me. “Hey, you pay us or you don't work!”

Sound familiar?

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