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The company does not engage in massive anti-union firings nor announce to workers that their store will close if a union is formed.
As a member of the International Labour Organization (ILO) and party to several important international instruments, the United States is legally bound to protect this fundamental right. laws permit a wide range of employer tactics that interfere with worker organizing. Wal-Mart is also the largest private employer in the United States, with roughly 1.3 million US workers and close to 4,000 stores nationwide.
They provide penalties too weak to adequately deter employers from breaking the laws, only requiring offenders to restore the status quo ante and imposing few, if any, economic consequences. None of those 1.3 million workers is represented by a union. Wal-Mart is a case study in what is wrong with US labor laws.
Based on our research, we conclude that the cumulative effect of Wal-Mart's panoply of anti-union tactics is to deprive its workers of their internationally recognized right to organize.
We believe that this should be a cause for concern regardless of one's views on the ongoing debate about whether Wal-Mart is good for local communities in the United States and, more generally, good for the country as a whole.
Additional research assistance was provided by interns Adnan Ahmad, Ann Allegra, Christina Filipovic, Karen Leve, Matthew Perault, and Bettina Warburg-Johnson.
Tubbs also provided staff support throughout the project and prepared the report for publication.
Layout and production were coordinated by Tubbs and Andrea Holley.
Human Rights Watch is especially grateful to the labor law attorneys, workers' rights advocates, retail professionals, and trade unionists who shared their knowledge and expertise with us.
As NLRB and court decisions have shown and as current and former Wal-Mart workers and managers have recounted to Human Rights Watch, Wal-Mart employees have a multitude of wide-ranging grievances.