For the fourth time, leaders of the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) union have blocked or withdrawn an election involving small groups of Wal-Mart associates - suggesting a pattern in which union leaders begin a drive, realize they lack support and then block the election rather than face defeat.

The latest such action took place on Tuesday, Oct. 24. Seventeen tire and lube express associates in Kingman, Ariz., were set to cast their votes in an election scheduled for Oct. 27. But UFCW leaders successfully blocked the election just days before the vote with the National Labor Relations Board.

"This pattern is becoming all too familiar to us," said Jay Allen, vice president of corporate affairs. "This is the fourth time that UFCW union leaders have backed out of an election when they knew they would lose. Our associates are smart and they have said time and time again that they do not want to be represented by third parties. We wish the UFCW would recognize this and stop wasting everybody's time."

The other similar instances occurred in these areas:
  • In New Castle, Penn., an election involving 19 tire and lube express associates was set for Aug. 31. The UFCW blocked it on Aug. 29.

  • In Ocala, Fla., the NLRB had ruled that 14 meat associates could proceed to an election, but the UFCW blocked the process on June 20. According to a news account, the associates wanted the election to proceed so they could vote no. "We changed our minds and decided not to pursue the union," an associate was quoted as saying. "They assured us we could halt the process if we wanted. Now the union wants to block the vote because they know we no longer want them here."

  • In Normal, Ill., UFCW leaders filed a petition for an election for 10 associates in the meat department on March 17. On March 28 on they pulled the petition. "They made a lot of promises they couldn't keep and they lied to us," one associate told the local daily newspaper.
"It's a shame that the UFCW chooses to tie up these processes rather than acknowledge they have lost support," Allen said. "The UFCW says they are trying to give associates a voice in the workplace, yet they are the ones continuing to silence them. No matter what union leaders do in the future, we will continue to treat our people with respect and to provide our associates with a good place to work and outstanding career opportunities. That is what Wal-Mart is all about."

Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. operates more than 2,570 stores and nearly 470 SAM'S Clubs in the United States. Internationally, the company operates more than 1,000 units. Wal-Mart employs more than 885,000 associates in the United States and 255,000 internationally. In 1999, the company raised and donated more than $163 million for charitable organizations. More information about Wal-Mart can be located on-line at www.walmartstores.com. The SAM'S Club Web site can be accessed at www.SAMSClub.com.