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