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Wal-Mart Employees Seek More Damages
Yahoo ^

Posted on 01/03/2007 6:20:39 PM PST by traumer

Wal-Mart Employees Ask Judge for Another $72 Million in Damages, Interest in Break-Time Case

PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- Wal-Mart workers in Pennsylvania who won a $78.5 million judgment for working off the clock and through rest breaks returned to court Wednesday to seek another $72 million in damages and interest.

They argue that about 125,000 plaintiffs in the class-action suit deserve an additional $500 each in damages, or $62 million, under Pennsylvania labor laws because the jury found that the world's largest retailer acted in bad faith. These so-called liquidated damages are designed to compensate people for the delay in payment.

The remaining 61,000 plaintiffs -- who do not qualify for those damages because of legal time limits -- should share in $10 million in interest on the back pay, lawyer Michael Donovan argued.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc., which denies wrongdoing and is appealing the jury award, opposed the added damages and interest. Company attorneys said that Donovan merely estimated the number of potential plaintiffs, and has not proven that each was shortchanged.

"They don't even know who they are," Wal-Mart lawyer Brian Flaherty said.

The workers already are expected to receive anywhere from about $50 to a few thousand dollars each from the initial award, depending on how long they worked for the company.

Philadelphia Common Pleas Judge Mark Bernstein did not immediately rule on the issues argued Wednesday. He questioned why Donovan sought liquidated damages of $500 per worker when the statute could be interpreted to allow $500 in damages each time a worker was shortchanged.

"If I'm a claimant, I'm entitled to everything the law says I'm entitled to, and if that's $500 every time I was shorted and I was shorted 24 times a year, then it's $12,000," Bernstein said.

Donovan said he did not interpret the state wage law that way. He added that Wal-Mart's lack of record-keeping would make it impossible to determine the number of individual violations.

Bernstein oversaw the five-week trial, which culminated in October when the jury rejected Wal-Mart's claim that some employees voluntarily chose to work through breaks and that the off-the-clock work was minimal.

The suit covers current and former employees who worked at Wal-Mart and Sam's Clubs in Pennsylvania from March 1998 through May 2006.

Wal-Mart, based in Bentonville, Ark., earned $11.2 billion in profits on $312.4 billion in sales in the last fiscal year. Donovan argued at trial that the unpaid work gave Wal-Mart an unfair advantage in the marketplace.

Lead plaintiff Dolores Hummel said she put in about 10 hours each month off the clock to keep up with demands at a Sam's Club in Reading, where the single mother worked for 10 years to support her son. Sam's Clubs are a division of Wal-Mart.

Donovan has also petitioned the court for more than $40 million in legal fees, plus $5.5 million in expenses. Wal-Mart, which must pay the fees unless the verdict is overturned, objected to the request and asked for more details.

Wal-Mart is appealing a $172 million verdict in a similar California case and settled a Colorado suit over unpaid wages for $50 million.

Wal-Mart policy in Pennsylvania gives hourly employees one paid 15-minute break during a shift of at least three hours and two such breaks, plus an unpaid 30-minute meal break, on a shift of at least six hours.


TOPICS: News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: walmart
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1 posted on 01/03/2007 6:20:39 PM PST by traumer
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To: traumer

...deserve an additional $500 each in damages, or $62 million


2 posted on 01/03/2007 6:21:45 PM PST by traumer
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To: traumer
I've never been in a WalMart... never but I want 250K just because.
3 posted on 01/03/2007 6:22:10 PM PST by steveo (ADVERTISEMENT)
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To: traumer

OK - if WalMart ripped off employees, then they should pay them for that time. But to get a judgment, then ask for MORE money???

Ugh...


4 posted on 01/03/2007 6:23:07 PM PST by TheBattman (I've got TWO QUESTIONS for you....)
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To: traumer

Walmart sure employs a lot of people in PA.


5 posted on 01/03/2007 6:24:45 PM PST by Ingtar (Prensa dos para el ingles)
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To: traumer
The WalMart in my neighborhood is a dump, just awful. Customers trying to pick the pockets of other customers and cashiers looking like they've just come off a long night of crack cocaine. That being said, it is my understanding from others, that most of them are pretty nice places. Therefore, I have no loyalties or biases concerning the store.

That notwithstanding: if you're employing THAT many people, you'd better be damn sure you're not trying to nickel and dime them, cutting corners on regulations, because it's going to come back and bite you with a vengeance. Very foolish of WalMart.

Owl_Eagle

If what I just wrote made you sad or angry,
it was probably just a joke.

6 posted on 01/03/2007 6:26:59 PM PST by South Hawthorne (In Memory of my Dear Friend Henry Lee II)
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To: traumer

"If I'm a claimant, I'm ENTITLED to everything the law says I'm entitled to, and if that's $500 every time I was shorted and I was shorted 24 times a year, then it's $12,000 "

:o)


7 posted on 01/03/2007 6:27:13 PM PST by traumer
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To: Ingtar

A lot of these folks are undoubtedly even now trying to figure out how to get overtime on unemployment.


8 posted on 01/03/2007 6:32:08 PM PST by JennysCool (Well done, President Ford.)
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To: traumer
The remaining 61,000 plaintiffs -- who do not qualify for those damages because of legal time limits -- should share in $10 million in interest on the back pay, lawyer Michael Donovan argued.

Gee, the author forget to mention how much money lawyer Michael Donovan was going to get.

9 posted on 01/03/2007 6:37:43 PM PST by Texas Eagle (If it wasn't for double-standards, Liberals would have no standards at all.)
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To: traumer

They were forced to work off the clock??? If thats true, what the hell was Walmart thinking??


10 posted on 01/03/2007 7:00:38 PM PST by escapefromboston (manny ortez: mvp)
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To: Ingtar
Walmart sure employs a lot of people in PA

Maybe Wally's World should look at PA.....

in the review mirror.

11 posted on 01/03/2007 7:21:05 PM PST by LasVegasMac (Islam........not fit for human consumption.)
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To: escapefromboston

"If thats true, what the hell was Walmart thinking??"

My sentiments exactly. How stupid can a company be to not make it plain to its management to adhere to the letter of the law and/or their agreements with their employees?

I mean, it's not like nobody knows that Wally World is the biggest target of unions, the media, and the left in general for cripes sake. They are under a microscope.


12 posted on 01/03/2007 7:23:19 PM PST by Felis_irritable (Dirty_Felis_Irritable...)
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To: traumer

"Lead plaintiff Dolores Hummel said she put in about 10 hours each month off the clock to keep up with demands at a Sam's Club in Reading"

I don't know how these people can prove their case, and Wal Mart should pay if its a legit complaint, but if this lady thinks that 10 hours a MONTH of overtime without getting any extra money is bad, she should try working salary in the tech industry. She doesn't have a clue what overtime is. I work at least that 10 hours overtime a week and I never see a penny extra for it.


13 posted on 01/03/2007 7:29:51 PM PST by navyguy (We don't need more youth. What we need is a fountain of SMART.)
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To: Felis_irritable

I work at Sam's Club part-time and attend college. I do not understand how the employees are able to work off the clock. The system will not allow it. My bosses are very strict about taking breaks. YOU HAVE TO TAKE THEM!!

Also the computer system locks you out when you clock out and you have to take a 30 minute lunch break. It will not let you clock back in until the 30 minutes has passed.

I work in the office and when it kicks you out- you are out!


14 posted on 01/03/2007 7:43:58 PM PST by republicangel
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To: republicangel

"Also the computer system locks you out when you clock out and you have to take a 30 minute lunch break. It will not let you clock back in until the 30 minutes has passed."

That sounds like the company is trying to do the right thing. Which doesn't surprise me. If - and let me emphasize IF - these disgruntled employees' assertions are true, maybe a few local managers were thwarting the system to lower their expenses? They do have thousands of stores and there are a few weasels in every group.


15 posted on 01/03/2007 7:54:57 PM PST by Felis_irritable (Dirty_Felis_Irritable...)
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To: Felis_irritable

That is quite possible. My managers are extremely frugal, but they also drill it into you during the hiring process that working off the clock is not acceptable. If anyone asks you to do this, you are to report them. .

I hope the managers at these stores were promptly fired for abusing their employees. Trust me, there are all kinds of ways for the authorities to know if they were skirting around the system.


16 posted on 01/03/2007 8:03:03 PM PST by republicangel
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To: republicangel

Is it possible to clock out on lunch and then return to, let's say, the dock area to break down all your empty cartons and throw them in the dumpster so that when you get back from lunch it will look like to the boss that you're keeping up with your job?


17 posted on 01/03/2007 8:51:25 PM PST by uptoolate
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To: Felis_irritable

"Also the computer system locks you out when you clock out and you have to take a 30 minute lunch break. It will not let you clock back in until the 30 minutes has passed."

My wife works at Walmart and was contacted by the law firm handling the case. She refused to be any part of it. She explained that it was probably a few bad managers and some current and former workers looking for some free money. These workers apparently worked through a 15 minute break or two. It was hteir responsiblity to take their breaks and they chose not to.


18 posted on 01/03/2007 9:25:58 PM PST by takbodan (.)
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To: Gabz

Wally ping.


19 posted on 01/03/2007 9:33:58 PM PST by upchuck (How to win the WOT? Simple: set our rules of engagement to at least match those of our enemy.)
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To: navyguy
I don't know how these people can prove their case, and Wal Mart should pay if its a legit complaint, but if this lady thinks that 10 hours a MONTH of overtime without getting any extra money is bad, she should try working salary in the tech industry. She doesn't have a clue what overtime is. I work at least that 10 hours overtime a week and I never see a penny extra for it.

First off, she didn't work "overtime," which is a legal definition for time worked by hourly workers over the standard 40 hour week. She worked OFF THE CLOCK, meaning that she was ordered to work during hours for which she was not being paid.

And don't forget that she's an hourly worker. There was an agreement entered into here, by both her and Walmart. The agreement was that she would be paid for every hour that she worked. Completely different than a salaried worker, which it seems both you and I are, and in the same industry.

It would be easy for her to prove that she worked additional hours. If she kept records of the time she started working versus when she timed in and out.

Again, you mentioned that she "doesn't have a clue what overtime is." Remember, by the employment agreement that she entered into with Walmart, they agreed to pay her hourly for her work, so she's not complaining about not getting overtime. She's complaining about working for Walmart at no pay. You can't say the same thing. As a salaried employee, you entered into an agreement that you would work until you finish, no matter what the hours, as have I. For instance, tonight I was responsible for moving 30 remote store VPN routers from one of our "hub" VPN routers to another. That little bonus project, plus my normal day to day work, allowed me to have a nice little extension to my normal 10 hour work day... 9:00am to 10:30pm. But that's part of MY job, and my employment agreement.

Mark

20 posted on 01/03/2007 10:10:08 PM PST by MarkL (When Kaylee says "No power in the `verse can stop me," it's cute. When River says it, it's scary!)
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To: traumer

Answer: The scumbag lawyers are grabbing the millions and there's jack squat left over for the chumps. A few of the chumps got a tad upset by this realization and so the scumbag lawyers are trying to shut them up for $500 each.


21 posted on 01/03/2007 10:14:38 PM PST by Lancey Howard
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To: republicangel

I just can't help but wonder how Walmart was able to pull the wage law wool over 125,000+ employees. Maybe some employees at a couple stores ended up working for free but 125,000????


22 posted on 01/03/2007 11:32:54 PM PST by 3catsanadog (Vote for the person at the primaries; vote for the party at the election.)
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To: takbodan

Usually it seems that one is paid for 15 minute breaks whether they take them or not. Working through lunch breaks have to be paid if the employee for the most part is doing his job duties.


23 posted on 01/03/2007 11:34:46 PM PST by 3catsanadog (Vote for the person at the primaries; vote for the party at the election.)
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To: upchuck; Just another Joe; CSM; lockjaw02; Publius6961; elkfersupper; nopardons; metesky; Mears; ...

WalMart Ping.


24 posted on 01/04/2007 4:16:20 AM PST by Gabz (If we weren't crazy, we'd just all go insane.)
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To: traumer; Mrs.Nooseman; Diana in Wisconsin; bfree; Graybeard58; CSM; metesky; wanderin; sitetest; ...

WalMart Ping...........


25 posted on 01/04/2007 4:17:27 AM PST by Gabz (If we weren't crazy, we'd just all go insane.)
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To: Gabz

Thanks for the ping.


26 posted on 01/04/2007 4:18:38 AM PST by Graybeard58 (Remember and pray for SSgt. Matt Maupin - MIA/POW- Iraq since 04/09/04)
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To: Gabz

Thank you for the ping.


27 posted on 01/04/2007 4:19:12 AM PST by Graybeard58 (Remember and pray for SSgt. Matt Maupin - MIA/POW- Iraq since 04/09/04)
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To: Graybeard58

Not enough caffeine yet this morning, and I hit the wrong list first :(

Happy New Year to ya!!!!


28 posted on 01/04/2007 4:20:38 AM PST by Gabz (If we weren't crazy, we'd just all go insane.)
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To: Gabz
I know about the coffee situation, I am only on my second cup. I'll be out of town for a funeral tomorrow and most of Saturday and won't have computer access but will have coffee access.
29 posted on 01/04/2007 4:23:44 AM PST by Graybeard58 (Remember and pray for SSgt. Matt Maupin - MIA/POW- Iraq since 04/09/04)
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To: Graybeard58

Glad to know you've got your priorites straight :)


30 posted on 01/04/2007 4:32:17 AM PST by Gabz (If we weren't crazy, we'd just all go insane.)
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To: republicangel
"I work at Sam's Club part-time and attend college. I do not understand how the employees are able to work off the clock. The system will not allow it. My bosses are very strict about taking breaks. YOU HAVE TO TAKE THEM!! Also the computer system locks you out when you clock out and you have to take a 30 minute lunch break. It will not let you clock back in until the 30 minutes has passed. I work in the office and when it kicks you out- you are out!"

I worked at wally world for over 7 years and quit this past November...I'm certainly not taking their side here, but you have to realize that alot of the policy you are talking about has only recently been implimented...and there are still members of management who will look the other way if you aren't taking breaks...their jobs depend on you getting yours done...

Management is now attempting to force out any long term associates...by this I mean, anybody with 7 years or more and those with 15 or more years are being offered a severance package that is laughable...I would love to see Lee Scott survive a week on it...you don't start pissing off over a million associates without some repercussions...

31 posted on 01/04/2007 4:36:06 AM PST by ~Vor~
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To: MarkL

now, how does one "force" someone to work off the clock?
is it a case of she punched out and the manager asked ehr to do something not realisd that she was punched out?
or was she maybe a slacker like some of the kids i've had to work with that didn't bother to do her job while on the clock and the manager, like most managers everywhere wasn't going to pay her to not work?
or is she like me and occasionally gets right to work and forgets to punch in?
i'd like to know alot more of the details of this.


32 posted on 01/04/2007 5:53:20 AM PST by absolootezer0 (stop repeat offenders - don't re-elect them!)
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To: Gabz

Wal-Mart paid their fines. These hosers, under the guidance of their lawyer(s), are looking for more cash, plain and simple.

I challenge any of these slackers to follow me around for a day on the farm. Mandatory breaks? ROFLMAO! (Well, meals and a chance to use the toilet, but that's standard anywhere you work.)

My last job in the outside world was in retail. 10 hour days; I brought my lunch, and I was LUCKY to be able to get a bathroom break once a day. I worked 2.5 days a week (job shared) and crammed 28 hours into those three days.

People are wimps. Total whiners. Be gone with you! I tire of you! ;)


33 posted on 01/04/2007 5:54:19 AM PST by Diana in Wisconsin (Save The Earth. It's The Only Planet With Chocolate.)
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To: traumer
working off the clock and through rest breaks

This is on of the reasons why unions are necessary.

34 posted on 01/04/2007 5:55:43 AM PST by A. Pole (Jesus:"Will ye also go away?" Peter:"Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life")
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To: escapefromboston
They were forced to work off the clock??? If thats true, what the hell was Walmart thinking??

Cheaper labor.

35 posted on 01/04/2007 5:57:24 AM PST by A. Pole (Jesus:"Will ye also go away?" Peter:"Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life")
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To: Lancey Howard; Willie Green; Wolfie; ex-snook; Jhoffa_; FITZ; arete; FreedomPoster; Red Jones; ...
The scumbag lawyers are grabbing the millions and there's jack squat left over for the chumps.

There is an alternative to the lawyers and government intervention: unions. Let workers organize and fight for their rights together.

I would be in favor of making unions membership mandatory for everybody who works. Hey, let even managers have their own unions!

36 posted on 01/04/2007 6:02:10 AM PST by A. Pole (Jesus:"Will ye also go away?" Peter:"Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life")
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To: Diana in Wisconsin
These hosers, under the guidance of their lawyer(s), are looking for more cash, plain and simple.

AMEN!

37 posted on 01/04/2007 6:16:57 AM PST by Gabz (If we weren't crazy, we'd just all go insane.)
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To: A. Pole
I would be in favor of making unions membership mandatory for everybody who works.

Scary!!!

38 posted on 01/04/2007 6:19:14 AM PST by Boston Blackie
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To: A. Pole

"I would be in favor of making unions membership mandatory for everybody who works."

Sarcasm?


39 posted on 01/04/2007 6:20:26 AM PST by brownsfan (It's not a war on terror... it's a war with islam.)
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To: Boston Blackie
Scary!!!

Why? It would not be Communist style union - you would have full rights to vote and be active in a union. Also you could join/form alternative Republican conservative union.

Think about it like car insurance - it is mandatory in many places, but you can chose the insurance company and options. The difference is that you cannot appoint/vote for the management of the insurance company but in the union you could.

40 posted on 01/04/2007 6:25:32 AM PST by A. Pole (Jesus:"Will ye also go away?" Peter:"Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life")
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To: brownsfan
Sarcasm?

Deadly serious. During my experience with helping to organize Solidarity (in Poland twenty six years ago) I realized that people cannot be free unless they organize themselves.

41 posted on 01/04/2007 6:27:21 AM PST by A. Pole (Jesus:"Will ye also go away?" Peter:"Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life")
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To: A. Pole

Everyone has the right to organize or not...it should not be mandatory to belong to a union in order to work in America..IMHO.


42 posted on 01/04/2007 6:44:56 AM PST by Boston Blackie
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To: A. Pole
So that all chances of advancement would be based on your seniority, not how well you do your job? That's what happens in unionized industries here in the States.

Unions do not allow for merit-based pay. It's all based on how long you have been on the job, not how well you have done your job.

Not only that, they pigeonhole you into a particular cog in the wheel. Need to move a table in your office? Can't just take 5 minutes to move it in a union shop, you have to submit a maintenance request and let them get to you two weeks later. Otherwise, the union maintenance guy will file a grievance because you were doing "his job". Meanwhile, your project schedule takes a hit that could have been easily avoided with some common sense, as opposed to following union rules.

The difference is that you cannot appoint/vote for the management of the insurance company but in the union you could.

And that management that you have to vote for runs on the platform of how many goodies can they squeeze out of the eeevil management to the point that they make their industries noncompetitive and bankrupt their companies (see United Airlines, Delta Airlines and others who used to have a great employer-provided pension plan that the unions destroyed by their tactics.) A union will end up hurting it's workers that way, but the fat-cat union bosses still get their money and to heck with the folks that they are supposed to be helping

Now was there a time for unions? Certainly. But their time has past. Folks have got to realize that they're on the same team in a company.

Long term, companies have to realize that for the most part if they treat their employees fairly they will get great results. Companies that cling to old management-labor paradigms will go the way of the dinosaurs.

43 posted on 01/04/2007 6:45:54 AM PST by Warhammer (Appeasing terrorists is like throwing steaks at a tiger hoping he becomes a vegetarian.)
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To: A. Pole

America is not Poland of twenty-six years ago. We are not trying to get out from under the yoke of communism, we are trying to keep from going under it.

In this country unions have become tools of the Democrats and forces for socialism. They are unecessary and ultimately damaging to those who desire good jobs at decent wages. Toyota makes a profit in this country; GM does not. One of the main reasons for this is unions. Toyota workers have jobs with good wages and benefits; GM workers are losing theirs.

If employees make themselves valuable enough to their employers, they will receive good wages and benefits. Conversely, if they do jobs that anyone could do (most WalMart jobs, burger flippers, etc.) or do their jobs poorly, then they will always be fighting an uphill battle to earn decent wages. That is a result of the free market. The good thing is that anyone is free to do the things that are necessary (gain skills, get an education, work harder and smarter than the next guy) to make himself or herself a valued employee. In such a system everyone benefits--the employee earns more money, the employer earns more profit. Win-win.

Should WalMart have people working off the books? Of course not. But as we see from this case, America has a system in place to ensure that such abuses are kept to a minimum and that employees are compensated when abuses occur. It is a system of checks and balances, and it works a whole lot better than any money- and freedom-grabbing union ever could.


44 posted on 01/04/2007 6:56:47 AM PST by LadyNavyVet
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To: Boston Blackie
Everyone has the right to organize or not...it should not be mandatory to belong to a union in order to work in America..IMHO.

You are right, I oversimplified. The actual implementation would be more flexible - you could ask for conscientious objector status for such case like:

Being a Objectivist or Libertarian or Anarchist or Free Market fundamentalist.

Being a Linux consultant who does not take bath

Your religion does not permit you to belong, like Cult of Management Worshipers for example.)

Having a case of ochlophobia (fear of crowd)

I am sure you would find some category to save you from this calamity.

Of you course you would have to forgo some privileges the union members would enjoy, but it will be small price to pay in you eyes.

45 posted on 01/04/2007 6:56:58 AM PST by A. Pole (" There is no other god but Free Market, and Adam Smith is his prophet ! Bazaar Akbar! ")
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To: A. Pole

"I realized that people cannot be free unless they organize themselves."

Unions are not the vehicle. I don't have a great answer, but I do know what goes wrong in a union. They make government corruption look like just some innocent fooling around. I understand the need for unions in some cases, but big unions = big corruption.

Mandatory union membership? Why half step? Why not just hand your money over to the government and the government can give you what you need? The government will negotiate for you, and you'll be cared for.

That's freedom?


46 posted on 01/04/2007 6:57:48 AM PST by brownsfan (It's not a war on terror... it's a war with islam.)
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To: Warhammer
advancement would be based on your seniority

Sure it beats having to train some young twerp from India to be your replacement after you worked in company for 20 years.

47 posted on 01/04/2007 7:00:54 AM PST by A. Pole (" There is no other god but Free Market, and Adam Smith is his prophet ! Bazaar Akbar! ")
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To: Warhammer
Now was there a time for unions? Certainly. But their time has past.

For a while, now the time IS BACK!

Folks have got to realize that they're on the same team in a company.

Not anymore, baby.

48 posted on 01/04/2007 7:02:46 AM PST by A. Pole (" There is no other god but Free Market, and Adam Smith is his prophet ! Bazaar Akbar! ")
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To: A. Pole

Death to the infidels!


49 posted on 01/04/2007 7:04:13 AM PST by Boston Blackie
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To: LadyNavyVet
In this country unions have become tools of the Democrats and forces for socialism.

In my plan you could join ANY unions, even Republican Conservative one. And you could organize the new one.

50 posted on 01/04/2007 7:06:21 AM PST by A. Pole (" There is no other god but Free Market, and Adam Smith is his prophet ! Bazaar Akbar! ")
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