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1/25/2005

Another unionized Wal-Evil-Mart in Canada

Hopefully American Wally World workers will do the same....

Wal-Mart Canada Corp. faces a second unionized store in Quebec as the world's largest retailer scrambles to polish its overall image.

Employees at the Wal-Mart in Saint-Hyacinthe, Que., were certified as a bargaining unit by the Quebec Labour Relations Commission this week. The commission found that a majority of the workers had signed cards with United Food and Commercial Workers Canada.

It marks the second successful drive for the union over the past six months, and another challenge for Wal-Mart, which has resisted all unionization attempts.

It also comes after U.S. parent Wal-Mart Stores Inc. last week launched a multimillion-dollar public relations blitz to try to clear up some of the misconceptions that the retailer feels have emerged about its track record as an employer and corporate citizen.

Last August, the Quebec labour commission certified the UFCW union at a Wal-Mart in Jonquière, Que., and first-contract negotiations are under way.

Andrew Pelletier, a spokesman for Wal-Mart Canada, said it is reviewing its options, including challenging the Saint-Hyacinthe decision in court.

The Quebec employees didn't have a chance to express their opinions about the union in a secret ballot vote, he said.

Canada has become a battleground in the UFCW's attempt to unionize Wal-Mart because the labour laws, particularly in Saskatchewan and Quebec, present fewer barriers to unionization.

"The momentum is picking up," Michael Fraser, UFCW Canada's national director, said of the successful Saint-Hyacinthe application. "Wal-Mart workers now realize that if they want a union in their store, Wal-Mart can't stop them."

Wal-Mart operates 240 Wal-Mart and Sam's Club stores and employs more than 65,000 in Canada.

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