Wal-Mart has announced that it will close a Quebec store where workers recently opted to unionize. As we reported in December, the union had begun negotiating a contract with Wal-Mart, which would have been the first union contract at any of the retailer’s 5,000 stores worldwide.
Wal-Mart has instead decided to shut down the store, laying off nearly 200 employees in the remote town of Jonquiere.
Wal-Mart insists that the store was not financially viable. But union leaders contend that the move was designed to intimidate employees at other stores where unionizing drives are underway.
In an attempt to counter widespread public outrage over the store’s closure, Wal-Mart ran full page ads in several Canadian newspapers last Sunday telling its employees that they are the “cornerstone” of the company.
“It’s like a guy who betrays his wife and beats his wife and then the next day gives her flowers for Valentine’s Day,” said Yvon Bellemare of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union.