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  • bluecheese4u bluecheese4u Nov 27, 2009 9:25 PM Flag

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

    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 Labor 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.

    Wayne Hanley, national president of UFCW Canada, said the decision didn't go the union's way but a door was opened in that employers can be put to a test to justify why a business is being closed, which should make companies "think twice" before doing so, especially if there is an organizing drive taking place.

    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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