NEW YORK - Wal-Mart Stores Inc said on Friday it has held meetings with U.S. store managers warning them of issues that could arise if Democrats win power and pass a law that would make it easier for workers to unionize, but stressed it was not telling workers how to vote.
Wal-Mart opposes proposed legislation called the Employee Free Choice Act, which would make it easier for workers to unionize by signing a card rather than holding a vote.
"We believe EFCA is a bad bill and we have been on record as opposing it for some time," Wal-Mart spokesman David Tovar said. "We feel educating our associates about the bill is the right thing to do."
The Wall Street Journal reported that about a dozen employees who attended meetings in seven states said executives told them employees would be required to pay hefty union dues and get nothing in return, and warned that unionization could force Wal-Mart to cut jobs as labor costs rise.
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The Journal report said Wal-Mart human-resources managers who run the meetings do not specifically tell attendees how to vote in November's presidential election, but they make it clear that voting for Democratic presidential hopeful Senator Barack Obama would be tantamount to inviting unions in.
"If anyone representing Wal-Mart gave the impression we were telling associates how to vote, they were wrong and acting without approval," Tovar said.
Wal-Mart, which does not have a unionized U.S. workforce, has been the target of union-backed groups that criticize the retailer for everything from its pay practices to its health care benefits.
Reporting by Nicole Maestri; Editing by Ted Kerr
© Thomson Reuters 2008.