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01 August 2008

State Labor Leader Says Wal-Mart Is Frightened To Death

"The business community is frightened to death."

Those are the words of Georgia AFL-CIO President Richard Ray when asked about the Wall Street Journal report that Wal-Mart is circling the wagons with warnings to their employees, including more than 55,000 in Georgia, that an Obama White House and large Democratic majorities in Congress would result in laws making it easier for workers to unionize for better wages and benefits.

Ray says Wal-Mart's actions are all geared towards the Employee Free Choice Act which allows for a union to be automatically recognized in the workplace if 50% of the employees sign a card requesting union representation.

"[The Employee Free Choice Act] is the number one priority of unions to get through Congress," Ray said. "They know if the Democrats win in November and elect Obama, we're going to pass this new legislation."

The Employee Free Choice Act, HR 800, passed the U.S. House in March of 2007 but stalled in the Senate amid veto threats from President Bush. The legislation is co-sponsored by the six Democrats representing Georgia in Congress.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is mobilizing its store managers and department supervisors around the country to warn that if Democrats win power in November, they'll likely change federal law to make it easier for workers to unionize companies -- including Wal-Mart. [Source: Wall Street Journal, "Wal-Mart Warns of Democratic Win", August 1, 2008]

The article goes on to say that while Wal-Mart management hasn't specifically told employees not to vote for Barack Obama in November, the implication made is that a vote for Obama on Tuesday will result in union representation on Wednesday -- something that Wal-Mart and other businesses do not want.

"We knew this was coming, but we didn't think it'd come this quick," Ray said.

"The business community is really scared that it [the Employee Free Choice Act] would help us get more people involved in the unions," Ray concluded.