Organizing Wal-Mart in China: Two Steps Forward, One Step Back for China's Unions

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Journal Article
New Labor Forum, 2007, 16 (2), pp. 87 - 96
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Surprise, surprise, it is the All-China Federation of Trade Unions (ACFTU), the trade union notorious throughout the world for being useless, that has taken on Wal-Mart and succeeded in setting up workplace union branches. Within a period of four weeks, it set up branches at twenty-two Wal-Mart supercenters. The Western mass media1 and some of the Chinese media coverage have been dismissive, on the presumption that the ACFTU does not really act like a trade union. Western reporters have indicated that Wal-Mart has finally found a union that it can live with. But has nothing positive emerged from the organizing of Wal-Marts stores? Is the ACFTU a dinosaur that never changes? Or, could there be reformers from within the ACFTU pushing for change?
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