UFCW SEEKS TO ORGANIZE 45 ONTARIO WAL-MARTS

MONTREAL --The United Food and Commercial Workers union (UFCW) is attempting to organize all 45 Wal-Mart stores in Ontario, following hundreds of complaints from disgruntled employees, according to the union.
Workers are concerned about wages and benefits, grievance procedures, job security and working conditions at the former Woolco stores purchased by Wal-Mart in early 1994, said Wayne Hanley, secretary treasurer of UFCW Local 175. Wal-Mart purchased 122 of 136 Woolco stores. Wal-Mart has denied it is antiunion, although none of its U.S. operations have unions.
"We're very pro-associate. We believe in taking good care of our workers," said a spokesman for Toronto-based Wal-Mart Canada, which now operates 128 stores. He said the firm has greatly enhanced the benefit package workers were getting under Woolco ownership and introduced a profit-sharing and bonus system.
In addition, employment has increased from 16,000 to 20,000 at the former Woolco stores, while full-time jobs have gone from 40 to 65 percent of the total. Wal-Mart will also hire some 700 new employees when it expands to 135 stores by the end of the first quarter of 1996, the spokesman said.
A Wal-Mart associate in Ontario starts at the minimum wage of $ 4.95 ($6.85 Canadian) an hour, which increases to $5.10 ($7.10 Canadian) after 90 days. By comparison, unionized supermarket clerks in Ontario earn around $11.52 ($16 Canadian) an hour, Hanley noted.--Fairchild News Service

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