I’ve written previously about the card-check union organizing provision in the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) now before Congress. It turns out that this is the same method, gathering signatures, that Chinese workers used to set up unions in every Wal-Mart branch in China.
This was fairly revolutionary for the All-China Federation of Trade Unions (ACFTU), which had been accustomed to being co-opted for a price. Generally, the union would approach the management of a company and strike a deal for one of its own to be given a mid-management position to oversee the union branch, and in the bargain would receive two percent of all wages for its operations. That two percent, naturally, would go to the main union, but it would also be used to buy presents for the workers at Chinese New Year’s and so on. Workers’ rights would hardly be considered.
Wal-Mart, however, balked at this process and wouldn’t accede to hiring a union rep or to paying the two percent. It pointed to Chinese law, which said that the workers had to request a union. This was anathema to the ACFTU, which had never had to organize and by law couldn’t even strike. ACFTU had no experience in grass-roots mobililzation.
Surprise, surprise, however, came when workers at the Jinjiang Wal-Mart in Quanzhou City, Fujian Province, met in the middle of the night and collected the 25 signatures necessary to form a union. Wal-Mart at first threatened to fire anyone who joined the union, but as branch after branch went through the “card check” process, Wal-Mart accommodated the ACFTU and is now unionized nationwide.
So, you can see why American unions thirst for EFCA and card check.
Somehow, though, I think unionization would cost Wal-Mart U.S.A. more than two percent of its payroll. That’s why its opposition to EFCA is so ferocious.