PRESS RELEASE: NOVEMBER 18, 2004

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UFCW Canada Press Release

Ontario Senior Staff To Attend Wal-Mart School: An Open Letter to the Honourable Dalton McGuinty, Premier of Ontario

TORONTO, ONTARIO - (CCNMatthews - Nov. 17, 2004) - Premier McGuinty:

I would like to bring to your attention that senior managers who work for your cabinet have been encouraged to attend, as part of their professional training, what is essentially the Wal-Mart School of Management on Tuesday, November 30th at Wal-Mart Canada headquarters in Mississauga.

In the brochure circulated to SMG and MCP staff, your Centre for Leadership Cabinet Office is promoting this meet-and-greet with Wal-Mart Canada's CEO and senior executives as a chance for "public service executives to understand private sector challenges." Challenges such as what? Employees who are asking for basic workplace rights?

Mr. Premier, why are some of your senior cabinet staff, at taxpayers' expense, enrolled for a primer on management style from a company that has been charged numerous times with unfair labour practices; is currently the target of the largest sexual discrimination class action lawsuit ever; a company that recently issued a threat to close a Wal-Mart store in Jonquiere, Quebec just weeks after workers there became members of a union?

After rationalizing their anti-worker labour practices as "just being competitive", will Wal-Mart Canada executives then move on to explain to your staff the merits of forcing the outsourcing of hundreds of Ontario manufacturing jobs to sweatshop jurisdictions? Will Wal-Mart be teaching that Levis Jeans, to name just one company, recently shut their last factories in Ontario and across Canada because they couldn't make jeans cheaply enough for Wal-Mart?

Will Wal-Mart be briefing your senior cabinet staff on the many studies that document how the company's predatory pricing kills family businesses in the community? Will your staff be brought up to speed on Wal-Mart's decision to storm ahead with building a store in Guelph in spite of the decade-long objections of thousands of citizens and the sacred seminary and its residents next door?

Premier McGuinty, if the "study tour" on November 30th is allowed to proceed it will show nothing but contempt for Wal-Mart workers who on average make less in a week than your staff will cost each for their day at the Wal-Mart Academy. If your senior staff really wants to study Wal-Mart they don't have to waste taxpayer dollars on Wal-Mart tuition. Better they just go to a Wal-Mart store and ask the employees about Wal-Mart's true management style. I would also encourage your cabinet staff (at no cost to them or the government) to meet and talk with us and other labour organizations as part of a balanced curriculum on optimizing the Ontario workplace.

Sincerely,

Michael J. Fraser, National Director
UFCW CANADA

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