The Strange Reason Walmart Hired a Defense Contractor

Walmart sells just about everything-from groceries to garage doors to guns. But, they don’t sell fighter jets (at least, not yet). So, why would they need to contract with the defense contractor, Lockheed Martin?

Turns out that Lockheed Martin, has a division that does intelligence gathering, and Walmart hired them to gather data on pro-union employees and activists. Walmart has made no secret that they oppose the unionization of their employees. Union activists have been trying to unionize Walmart’s workforce with little success. But, is Walmart’s strategy of hiring a company to spy on people a good one?

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17 thoughts on “The Strange Reason Walmart Hired a Defense Contractor

  1. The fact that Wal*Mart has decided to spy on its own employees would seem to be a powerful argument in favor of unionization. I would be surprised if an NLRB charge is not filed over that practice.

  2. The post comes off a bit anti-union, was that the intent? It mentions how to prevent unions, not so much about promoting them, or just staying out of it altogether. I always pictured HR needing to be rather neutral to the issue of unionization, as we generally provide the same services for unionized employers as non-unionized. Even taking the advice to “educate your employees on why it’s best to keep unions out of your company” seems like it may be asking for trouble. What do you think?

    1. The audience is business owners, who are almost universally anti-union in their own businesses. They may think that other businesses need unions, but their’s certainly don’t.

      As a general rule, I’m anti union.

      1. Well Walmart is pretty notorious for treating their employees poorly. Happy employees generally don’t unionize after all. Walmart has really had this coming for a long time now. The question is how far across the legal line are they going to go? From what was reported in the NLRB hearings it seems they are really testing the legal waters as far as invasion of privacy and anti-union retaliation.

        1. Oh, I’m pretty sure Walmart knew they were testing the limits. They have enough money that if they get in trouble, they’ll take the fine, but the damage is done–employees are less likely to be pro-union if they know the company will come after them.

          I have no love of Walmart.

      2. Out of curiosity, why are you anti union? I’m in the public sector, and no one seems to give much thought to it. Is it about aligning with business owners or have you had some negative experiences with unions?

        1. I can’t speak for Suzanne, but I am skeptical that no one gives thought to public sector unions. I don’t believe they have a right to exist, for one thing: You don’t have the right to organize against the people, especially when there’s no simple and straightforward way to get rid of you. See the rise of charter schools vs. teachers unions, and which ones parents flock to when given half a chance. If the latter organization didn’t exist you wouldn’t have seen the former.

          I refuse to join unions — the work rules may work for unskilled rote work where there’s no way to differentiate one worker from another other than how long one’s butt has been in place, but in a professional environment? No. Counterproductive.

          1. My personal experience with unions, i was both a UFCW and a Teamster, unions are there to protect the workers. The unions know that they cannt win every battle with the employer so they pick and choose which battles they will fight. As a union member you are unable to take up your own battles if the union decides not to take up the fight. I was screwed over as a teamster becuase my shop steward didnt want to take up my issue. Unions force employees to give up their individual voice for a collective one.

          2. My experience with public sector unions are that they are a fairly important part of government. The people that are members of the union are members of voting public as well; lest that uncomfortable truth be forgotten. Not all of them are perfect and both ability and drive vary from person to person, but if you have ever called Comcast’s tech support you get the exact same thing.

            When people work for the government problems can quickly become political in a very nasty way and the employees need some form of protections (the union) to prevent political pressure from covering up issues or harming the public good.

            Finally the reason unions came into existence in the first place was that working conditions used to be really terrible. Without public outcry, workers banding together, and investigative journalism (done well) pay would be lower, job sites more dangerous, and a whole host of other nasty things. Frankly unions aren’t perfect, they are made and run by humans after all, but the threat of employees forming one has forced more than one business owner to confront serious issues.

            1. But a lot of times the protections go too far. Incompetence and poor decision making are not grounds for removal based on most civil servant contracts.

            2. You are still organized against the people. That is still not something you have the right to do. When I can fire you, when I can vote you out, we’ll talk about your “protections.” But so long as your “protections” leave you unaccountable to the people you actually work for — the taxpayers who pay your salary — then no, you do not have the right to organize against us.

              That’s the bottom line.

            3. We fire unionized employees all the time, the only difference is that the termination has to be for cause – disciplinary reasons, lack of work, budgetary shortfall, etc. Pretty much all the reasons when you would need to fire someone. What kinds of protection are you talking about?

    2. HR needing to be rather neutral to the issue of unionization

      Don’t know about that. I am not in HR, but have a friend who was an HR director at an F50 company. She had a master’s degree in labor relations and hated contract negotiations. I can see not wanting to deal with the possibility of a strike.

      1. Ive been through 3 union drives, 2 different companies, as part of management. HR runs the entire anti union game on the part of the company. It is their job to be the most trained on what is and isnt allowed on the part of the company

  3. Hr should reflect the same stance as their company on unionization issues. HR is there to provide value for the comapny not the empolyees.

  4. Walmart is facing the utterly horrifying idea of paying the day’s cost for their policies and treatment of their workers. The simple fact of the matter is that happy employees don’t unionize and Walmart has legions of current and former unhappy employees. The cornerstone of Walmart’s anti-union strategy has been negative propaganda combined with considering their workers disposable (at best). Now that the economy has picked up some the pool of disposable workers is drying up and their current employees likely want something better than:
    Wage theft –
    Surveillance –
    Discrimination –

  5. The major issue is that Walmart employees can’t unionize. As someone who was basically homeless in my late teens I am someone who has a intimate understanding of what it feals like to not have enough to survive. I can understand that Wal Mart employees want more. The problem is that working at Wal Mart doesn’t teach them any unique skill. If they try to unionize they can simply be replaced by 16-18 year olds. They would also need millions to face the uphill legal battle they would face, against a highly organized company that straddles the intire planet. The best they can wish for is a disasterous increase in min wage that not only hurts them and there friends but would be unnoticed by the donor class that they so resent. Mic drop… Boom

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