Unionizing Chinese Walmart Stores

Cornell University Press
Publication Type:
Walmart in China, 2011, 1, pp. 199 - 216
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The All-China Federation of Trade Unions (ACFTU) is widely thought to be "useless." It was a surprise, therefore, when, despite the lack of any prior push by employees, the ACFTU took on Walmart in 2006 and succeeded in setting up workplace union branches at twenty-two Walmart supercenters in China within the short space of four weeks. Walmart is famously antiunion and has successfully fought off unionization in North America. It was especially surprising, therefore, when Walmart capitulated to unionization in China. Equally surprising, the ACFTU achieved this through a technique it had not endeavored since the early 1950's; grassroots union organizing. Also almost unprecedented for China was that the first new union branches were democratically elected by employees. This chapter examines the emergence of these Walmart union branches, traces what has happened to them, and discusses whether they are sustainable and can carry out collective bargaining, one of the main tasks of genuine trade unions.
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