We thought we'd seen everything in the book of tricks used by management to prevent workers from organizing on the job, but Wisconsin-based home improvement chain Menards is going above and beyond. The employment agreement for managers at the chain threatens managers with a 60% pay cut if a union forms under their supervision.
The section of the employment agreement titled “Union Activity” states: “The Manager’s income shall be automatically reduced by sixty percent (60%) of what it would have been if a union of any type is recognized within your particular operation during the term of this Agreement." To reiterate, in case you didn't catch it, the next lines says: "If a union wins an election during this time, your income will automatically be reduced by sixty percent (60%).”
Menards is right at home in a state where Gov. Scott Walker (R) is one of the most staunch opponents of the rights of working people. With more than 280 stores in 14 states, the company is one of the 40 largest private companies in the United States. with $8.7 billion in annual revenue. The company's owner, John Menard Jr., reportedly funneled more than $1.5 million to a group supporting Walker, and later Menards was awarded up to $1.8 million in special tax credits from Walker's Wisconsin Economic Development Corp.
As The Progressive magazine notes, this is nothing new for the company:
John Menard’s antipathy to unions is well-known. In a 2007 article in Milwaukee Magazine, a former store manager said he was made to attend “a one-and-one-half-day seminar in Eau Claire about fighting unions.” The article also quoted an ex-manager in Iowa as saying that company policy included a 60 percent pay cut for managers should a store become unionized.
Stephanie Bloomingdale, secretary-treasurer of the Wisconsin State AFL-CIO, condemned the company:
Shame on Menards. How are working people supposed to get ahead in this economy and work for a strong America when billionaires like John Menard are rigging the deck before working people even have a chance?
An unfair labor practice charge was recently filed with the National Labor Relations Board.