NRLB to assess Wal-Mart dispute; threat of Black Friday strike

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WAL-MART WALKOUTS: Federal labor officials say they will decide quickly whether to support a request by Wal-Mart Stores Inc. to stop a union-backed group from organizing worker walk-outs at hundreds of stores on Friday.

NO FAIR?: The world's largest retailer filed an unfair labor practice charge with the National Labor Relations Board on Friday against the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union. It said that the demonstrations threaten to disrupt its business and intimidate customers and associates.

ON IT: The NLRB said it will try to act on Wal-Mart's complaint within 72 hours of its filing.

We are preparing to have a great Black Friday across all of 4,000 locations in the U.S. We have a great group of associates at Walmart, in fact more than one million associates will be working throughout the holiday weekend and they're excited about our Black Friday plans this year. This is the Super Bowl for retailers and we're ready. We've been working on our Black Friday plans for almost a year now and we're prepared to have a great event. We care about our associates and our associates care about providing a great customer experience on Black Friday. We're confident that's what our associates will deliver for customers this year at Walmart.

The reality is that there are only a handful of associates, at a handful of stores scattered across the country that are participating in these UFCW made for TV events. Most of the numbers of people the UFCW claims at their events aren't even Walmart workers. They are union representatives and other union members. The super majority of our 1.3 million associates are excited about Black Friday and are ready to serve our customers. In fact, many of our associates have urged us to do something about the UFCW's latest round of publicity stunts because they don't think it's right that a few associates that are being coerced by the UFCW are being portrayed by the media as representative of what it's like to work at Walmart.

We have hard data that tells a completely different story than what a few associates may think. Consider these facts: We have 250,000 associates that have worked for the company for more than 10 years, we promoted 165,000 hourly associates last year, our turnover rate (37%) is lower than the retail industry average (44%), nearly 75% of our store management teams started out in hourly positions, and 20% of the people we hired last year were rehires--meaning they worked for Walmart, decided to leave and concluded they were getting a better deal at Walmart so they came back. The fact is, our pay and benefits plans are as good or better than our retail competitors, including those that are unionized. If they weren't, we wouldn't be able to hire people and staff our stores. Last year alone, we received 5 million job applications. We also survey our 1.3 million associates every year to gauge their job satisfaction and those numbers have been increasing over the past few years.

The fact is, we do not expect these actions by a very small minority of our associates (less than .0003 percent) at a handful of stores to have any impact on our stores or our customers shopping experience on Black Friday.

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