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This morning, I sat down with Steve Restivo, communications director for Walmart’s Northeast region. We talked of many things, most of which I’ll save for a forthcoming cover story, but I thought I’d share this one general bit about why there are no unions at Walmart stores.

The clean-cut Walmart PR guy look.

I realize that some other grocery chains in D.C. are also non-union. But for an employer facing a lot of skepticism, it would seem like allowing employees to unionize if they chose would ease your entry into this market. If you say that your wages and benefits are competitive with those offered by other grocery chains anyway, why not allow them union representation?

Because I think our associates, time and again, have recognized that it’s not a better deal for them. I think we’ve got a pretty good track record, and I can point to some examples, where our associates have turned down the opportunity to join a union, time and time again. I mean, the organizing effort is fairly aggressive. We have a clear and open line of communication with our associates. Our associates recognize that they appreciate that, and they know that the wages and benefits they receive are extremely competitive in the industry.

But why not allow staff in each store to make that choice for themselves?

I don’t know why you think it’s not offered.

Well, I’m thinking in particular of a a recent posting for a labor relations position that makes it pretty clear that fighting unions is part of the job description.

I would go back to the point too that the overwhelming majority of retailers here in DC, across the country, are not unionized businesses. And as you point out, there are several grocers here that are not union grocers. So the same question should probably be asked of all of those businesses.

Picture of Restivo via this blog.