Wal-Mart workers at Colorado shop reject union representation

Friday, February 18th 2005, 12:58 pm
By: News On 6

LOVELAND, Colo. (AP) _ Nearly 20 Wal-Mart workers voted against union representation Friday, rejecting a proposal that would have established the first union inside any of the retailer's stores in the country.

A spokesman for the United Food and Commercial Workers who announced the 17-1 vote said the group will ask the National Labor Relations Board throw out the results, saying no union member was allowed to observe the election at a Wal-Mart Tire & Lube Express.

The spokesman, Dave Minshall, said Wal-Mart added employees to the unit to dilute the strength of union supporters.

Wal-Mart had objected to even holding the vote, saying the Tire & Lube Express was not a stand-alone operation but only a department of the larger store.

``Many of our associates are former union members _ they know better than anyone that the only guarantee a union can make is that it will cost the members money _ and that is why they continue to reject the UFCW,'' Terry Srsen, Wal-Mart vice president for labor relations, said in a written statement after the Colorado vote.

The vote by workers in Loveland was supervised by the regional office of the National Labor Relations Board, which rejected an appeal by company executives to prevent it.

Christi Gallagher, a spokeswoman for the world's largest retailer, said the company's employees ``have very open communication with their managers and they don't feel like a third party would in any way benefit that relationship.''

Workers at the Wal-Mart about 50 miles north of Denver said the tire shop has a separate entrance and is situated at the end of the building _ far away from other departments in the store.

In recent years, the UFCW has targeted Tire & Lube Express shops nationwide as its best possible chance to bring unions to the retailer, but previous elections have been unsuccessful.

Earlier this month, the company said it would close a store in Quebec because of what company officials called ``unreasonable demands'' by workers trying to negotiate the first-ever union contract with the retailer.

In 2000, 11 workers at the meatpacking department in a Wal-Mart in Jacksonville, Texas, voted to be represented by the UFCW. Shortly afterward, Wal-Mart eliminated the position companywide, insisting the move was not related to the election.

The Bentonville, Ark.-based chain, has more than 5,100 locations worldwide.