David Tovar’s recent comments, more than anything, are a symbol of the times for working families.
The Nation reports that Walmart Vice President of Communications David Tovar admitted, in an interview with Bloomberg Businessweek, to illegal union-busting tactics:
Tovar told reporter Susan Berfield, “We have human resources teams all over the country who are available to talk to associates, and we will get questions about joining a union. We would say, ‘Let us remind you of all that Walmart offers, and of what might go away. Quarterly bonuses might go away, vacation time might go away.’ ”
Under current U.S. labor statutes, even outright threats to organizing workers are typically met with weak penalties. Admitting borderline intimidation such as this, widespread as it appears to be from his statement, is unlikely to have any impact on Walmart. There will be minor outrage within the left-liberal community, with recoil from liberal-tarians who love the results of labor organizing but hate actual unions.
What is remarkable about Tovar’s statement, however, is not its truth—any labor organizer will tell you that this is everyday practice. It’s the brazen presumption that underpins a public admission like this by a seasoned communications director. Tovar isn’t making a mistake here: he’s practically bragging.
Walmart is the second largest employer in the United States, behind the Federal Government. It is the largest private employer in the world. Most of their employees work in areas that should be ripe for organization, and last year associates made an average of $11.75 per hour. Yet Walmart has zero fear of unions or labor law.
More perhaps than any recent political development, this is a symbol of the times for working families in America. The war on labor is over. What’s next?
Image by Walmart Corporate/ flickr