This is not an argument for unions

Why do we keep hearing that employees are powerless against big, bad corporations? Lately, it’s always Wal-Mart, as it is in this story, except the story reveals the lie in the anti-capitalist sales pitch:

For months, politicians and activists have been saying that the low prices at the world’s largest retailer, Wal-Mart Stores (WMT), come at a tremendous cost to its low-paid employees. They point to lawsuits that contend the company discriminates against women and forces low-paid employees to work through lunch breaks and after their shifts, without extra compensation. Wal-Mart has also been boosting its political contributions to stop initiatives aimed at forcing the retailer to raise pay and benefits … .

Using contentions in a lawsuit is little more than hearsay until the case is resolved, of course. And I’m not sure how any company could “force” employees to do anything. Barring accusations of slavery, grudgingly acquiescing to an employer request isn’t a forced action.

Oh, wait, sorry. I got lost on the way to the bulk of the story. Here it is:

Now, as Wal-Mart rolls out a new round of workplace restrictions, employees at a Wal-Mart Super Center in Hialeah Gardens, Fla., are taking matters into their own hands. On Oct. 16, workers on the morning shift walked out in protest against the new policies and rallied outside the store, shouting “We want justice” and criticizing the company’s recent policies as “inhuman.” Workers said the number of participants was about 200, or nearly all of the people on the shift.

This demonstrates an intelligent response. If they don’t like what’s going on, they should leave. Granted, stopping at the front entrance isn’t quite far enough, and chanting “We want justice” is probably excessive. But I’m missing the forced part that amounts to an injustice. They’re equal partners in a transaction. When they accept that, they’ll find they’re not as powerless as they’re told. This concept is simple enough, and here is another data point, if they’re interested in learning the real lesson.