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  • bluecheese4u bluecheese4u Nov 27, 2009 1:59 PM Flag

    COURT ~ none of the parties now contends that WMT retains its option 2 reopen

    COURT ~ none of the parties now contends that WMT retains its option 2 reopen

    Canada Supreme Court Rules in Favor of Wal-Mart in Store Closing

    TORONTO—Canada's top court has ruled in favor of Wal-Mart Stores Inc.'s Canadian unit regarding the closure of a unionized store in Quebec four years ago.

    The Supreme Court of Canada, which heard the case in January, voted 6-3 for Wal-Mart Canada.

    The store, located in the town of Jonquiere, made headlines in 2004 when it was unionized without a vote. But after nine contract-bargaining sessions, Wal-Mart decided to shut the store the following year, saying the store wasn't making money and the union's demands, which required hiring an additional 30 employees, would have kept it from ever being profitable.

    In its decision, the court said none of the parties now contends that Wal-Mart retains its option to reopen the store and "it would be a waste of the parties' time and money to remit this case" back to the Quebec Labor Commission. "The Jonquiere store is closed and there is no possibility of reinstatement of the employees," the court said.

    Wal-Mart Canada spokesman Andrew Pelletier said the decision isn't surprising and is consistent with previous rulings.

    The case, filed by some of the store's workers and supported by the United Food and Commercial Workers union, had previously been rejected by the Quebec Labour Commission, Quebec Superior Court and the Quebec Court of Appeal. The workers argued that the closing violated their rights to freedom of association, while Wal-Mart responded that it had the right to close a store regardless of its union status.

    Officials from the union weren't available to comment.

    Mr. Pelletier said Wal-Mart Canada treats its workers well despite union comments to the contrary, saying that close to 10,000 of its employees were promoted last year and that it was recently named one of Canada's most "admired" corporate cultures by human-resource consultant Waterstone Human Captial.

    Wal-Mart Canada has repeatedly frustrated the union's attempts to organize its workers. Last year, it shut an auto garage after an arbitrator imposed a contract awarding a wage increase. Earlier this year, an arbitrator imposed a contract on another Wal-Mart store that kept wages and benefits the same as before the union organized the location.

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    • Lorne Gunter: Wal-Mart ruling trumps economic illiteracy
      Posted: November 27, 2009, 1:45 PM by NP Editor Lorne Gunter

      Top court backs Wal-mart in union dispute
      OTTAWA -- Canada's top court has ruled in favour of Wal-Mart Stores Inc. in a dispute over union organizing efforts at a store in Quebec.

      The case centred around a store that Wal-Mart opened in Jonquiere, Quebec, in 2001 and closed four years later after a union was certified to negotiate a collective agreement and Quebec's labour ministry said negotiations should go to arbitration.

      The ruling, from the Supreme Court of Canada, means Wal-Mart did not violate worker rights when it closed the store.

      National Post, Feb. 14, 2005:

      Not since Scottish-born socialist Joe Davidson headed up the Canadian Union of Postal Workers in the 1970s have I heard so much economically illiterate rhetoric about a labour dispute as has been generated by Wal-Mart's decision to shutter its unionized outlet at Jonquiere, in Quebec's Saguenay region.

      Mr. Davidson, once famously declared that if Canadians would not back his workers' demands for "justice," then "to hell with the public."

      It always seemed Mr. Davidson believed the post office existed not to deliver mail but to give his members high wages. As he saw it, even if there were no mail, Ottawa would still be obliged to operate its postal outlets and sorting plants.

      Wal-Mart's announcement this week has provoked the same kind of malarkey. Union leaders and leftist politicians have insisted Wal-Mart be forced to keep its Jonquiere outlet open unless it can prove its official claim that the store was closing because it's unprofitable.

      According to Michael Fraser, the national president of the Jonquiere workers' union, the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW), "Wal-Mart knew they were going to be forced into a situation where they would have to have a collective agreement. That is the only reason they closed the store." He also insists the Saguenay Wal-Mart had to be profitable because "the parking lot was full."

      This latter observation is neither solid evidence of profitability nor relevant. A store could be busy as can be and still be unprofitable if wages are too high, or the wholesale cost of the goods it retails rise unexpectedly, or it has to pay too much in rent, utilities or taxes.

      Still, I suspect Mr. Fraser is correct: The Wal-Mart outlet was profitable. The question then is: So what?

      No government or court can make a store or other business stay open against its wishes. By what authority? More importantly, by what mechanism could such an order be enforced?

      Does the UFCW, or the Quebec labour federation, or NDP MP Pat Martin, or any of Wal-Mart's other critics propose that a judge or human rights commissioner supersede the rights of Wal-Mart's shareholders and start forcing the company to run stores it doesn't want? Do those who have demanded Wal-Mart be forced to keep this store open presume to know Wal-Mart's best interests better than the company's millions of shareholders, or that they have more of a right to tell it how to spend its money?

      Wal-Mart is likely withdrawing from one rural Quebec store to send a message to its 1.6 million employees at its other 5,200 stores: Unionize and you're out of work. Wal-Mart's executives know this may open their company to a boycott. They understand

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