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Wall-Mart and Unions

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Wal-Mart is a private multinational company that deals with warehousing and departmental stores. The corporation would reap several benefits if it worked with workers’ unions. It would also experience some benefits because of working with the labor unions. The following is a discussion of how both the company and the workers would benefit or suffer because of working with the labor unions.

Unions’ Advantages to Wal-Mart

Working with unions would improve the public relations of the organization, thus making it appeal more to the public and customers. The company has dealt with many cases alleging that it disregards and violates human rights by refusing its workers to have unions. For instance, there is a claim that the company discriminates against women by offering them less wages, salaries, and benefits as compared to men (Greenhouse, 2007). Unions would act as a mediator between the company and the workers. The two parties would be in a better position to solve their problems in an amicable manner without attracting too much publicity. The company’s reputation would improve since the number of cases filed by workers would reduce and as a result, the company’s customer base would increase.   

Unions’ Disadvantages to Wal-Mart

On the other hand, these benefits would come with costs to pay. First, the company’s human resource department would experience some adjustments since the union would step in to negotiate for better working conditions and terms for the employees. The union would negotiate for pay increases, maternity and paternity leaves, working hours and overtime, amongst many other issues that concern the employees. Wal-Mart would therefore experience less profit and the managers might experience a reduction in their salaries in an effort to compensate the junior workers as per the union demands. In addition, the company might be forced to increase the prices to make it possible to pay dividends to the shareholders’ as well as increased labor costs. Price increases might reduce the company’s competitive edge over the competitors with regard to pricing (Bliss & Forden, 2010).

Advantages of Unions to Employees

One of the advantages of employees’ union membership is that they would enjoy annual pay increase as negotiated for by the union. Employees’ unions try to bring justice and fairness to all employees by reducing the wage gap between the managers and the other workers. Usually, salaries/wages of employees who are members of employees’ unions are 5 percent higher to those of other employees in the same industry who are members of employees’ unions (Mishel & Walters, 2003). Other benefits include; paid leaves, better health facilities as well as amicable dispute resolution incase of a dispute between the employees and the organization.

Disadvantages of Unions to Employees

On the other hand, unionized employees are exposed to some disadvantages in that they are expected to pay union dues. This might be very difficult especially when the union calls for a strike and the employees have to comply at the expense of providing for their dependants. Unions might also call for strike if their demand for increased wage is not met. Such strikes might drive the company’s output and sales down and result in lay-offs and loss of employment.

Consequences

There are several consequences associated with Wal-Mart intention to slow unionization. Employees have been underpaid irrespective of their experience and education background. Such employees end up being less productive and lack the motivation to do anything beyond what they are expected, thus destroying innovation. The company has also encountered several legal suits that have drained its finances (Liptak, 2011). Besides, the company has also received negative publicity in the community and this has tarnished its name to the extent of being branded ‘an evil empire’ by the community. At times, workers have resulted to boycotts, which are counter-productive, and this affects the company’s growth and profitability.

Wal-Mart and employees’ efforts to organize are regulated by NLRA (National Labor Relations Act) that protects employees’ rights to organize. Wal-Mart’s efforts to slow or stop the unions would be considered unethical since it denies the employees a chance to have protection from the unions given the fact that the company pays the employees less wages as compared to the minimum wage. It is also unethical because Wal-Mart discriminates its employees based gender, which is against the fundamental rights of human beings. Wal-Mart enjoys super profits at the expense of paying unreasonable wages to the employees and the producers who supply them. This is also unethical.

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