retail news in context, analysis with attitude

On Friday, MNB took note of a story in the Canadian Press reporting that Walmart has closed down a Quebec store’s automobile center where the employees recently voted to form a union and seek a collective bargaining agreement.

Walmart said yesterday that the five employees who wanted to unionize were seeking salary increases that would have forced it raise prices by 30 percent, which it deemed unacceptable and that it said would make the automotive center unprofitable.

MNB’s phrasing left out a piece of the puzzle. In fact, the employees voted to unionize, but after management and labor were not able to come to an agreement, a government arbitrator imposed a 33 percent wage increase – which Walmart said would lead to the price increases.

"We have participated in good faith in every step of the process asked for by the union, including an extensive bargaining and arbitration process," Walmart Canada spokesman Andrew Pelletier told Dow Jones. "Our hope had always been to achieve a contract that would keep the Gatineau TLE open and in a position to deliver low prices to our customers."

KC's View:
I continue to think that Walmart’s decision to close the automotive center subverts much of the work it has been doing to improve its reputation in a lot of areas. But the government-imposed solution certainly makes the decision more understandable.