WASHINGTON - The United Food and Commercial Workers Union is planning a new campaign to win over more than 1 million employees at Wal-Mart Stores Inc., after several failures to organize the largest retailer.
On Thursday, the UFCW, the AFL-CIO, the National Organization for Women, the National Baptist Convention and the National Interfaith Committee for Worker Justice will stage protests outside 100 Wal-Mart stores.
"We've never gone at any other company like we're going to go at Wal-Mart," Doug Dority, international president of the food and commercial workers' union, said at a news conference.
Wal-Mart has successfully resisted previous organization efforts. The stakes have grown for the UFCW's present 1.4 million members, because competition from Wal-Mart is hurting union employees at Kroger Co. and Safeway Inc. stores, Dority said.
Wal-Mart is "operating against employers paying $3 to $8 more an hour than they are," Dority said.
Wal-Mart, which calls its workers "associates," says the campaign is misguided.
"The notion that we don't pay competitive wages and benefits is unfounded," said Bill Wertz, a company spokesman. Wal-Mart offers its employees a pension plan, a 401(k) plan and profit sharing, he said, adding that, "There is a wide range of ways to keep our costs low. We don't do it by shortchanging our associates."
Wertz said the union is after the dues income.
The unions and activist groups say high turnover, coupled with an anti-labor corporate culture, has prevented employees from organizing. Wal-Mart workers "will get fired if they're caught talking about a union," NOW President Kim Gandy said in a statement.
Wal-Mart reported a 23 percent increase in third-quarter profit last week.