Holiday shopping, Wal-Mart and the fight over unions

Reaction from the 'Special Report' All-Star panel


This is a rush transcript from "Special Report," November 20, 2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.


DAVID TOVAR, WAL-MART VP OF COMMUNICATIONS: Time and time again our associates concluded that they don't need a union, that they've got a good deal working at Wal-Mart, they appreciate the opportunities that we have at Wal-Mart. And we appreciate our associates. We can't have a black Friday event without our associates.

BARBARA ANDRIDGE, WAL-MART EMPLOYEE: Pay is an issue for some of us.
A lot of us tired of living in poverty, a lot of us on food stamps. I can't live off that.

ODIN RASCO, WAL-MART EMPLOYEE: I don't know if I should go with my morals or just go with my need to have an income at the moment.


SHANNON BREAM, GUEST HOST: Two sides of the debate at Wal-Mart as they knew are on one of their busiest day of the year on Friday are facing a walkout from current employees. Let's talk about it with our panel, Fred, Kirsten, and Charles. Nobody escapes back to their turkey.

Charles, what do you make about this? We had expected or thought there we would have a decision from the National Labor Relations Board at this point. Wal-Mart essentially filed a petition we don't want this mass protest tomorrow and it doesn't meet with federal law and we want it to stop.

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: I'm shocked at the Democratic heavy NLRB has not issued a ruling on Thanksgiving that would have gone against the picketers. And they are studiously collecting depositions and more information so, they can have an issue of ruling on Monday, which, whatever it is, will be completely moot because the picketing will go on today and tomorrow.

But I would like to reissue the safety warning I did yesterday. Attention Wal-Mart picketers -- the only place more dangerous than to stand before an early morning shopper on black Friday bargains is to stand between Chuck Schumer and a camera. That is known to be a very dangerous place. But that's really said in jest.

What you have to understand about this is that the serious issue is that the picketers are required, if they're going to picket continuously, they are required over time to at least begin to file for unionization. And I think it's the absence of that that makes these potentially illegal.

BREAM: Kirsten, we talked about this yesterday, of course some folks would agree first amendment gives people a right to speak up especially if they feel they're under adverse conditions. But there's a protocol that the NLRB has to follow and I know you're not a fan.

KRISTEN POWERS, COLUMNIST, NEW YORK POST: And I feel about this exactly I felt exactly at this time last night.

BREAM: You didn't change in the last 24 hours? 

POWERS: I really find it astounding that people are not just out right outraged the idea of a government -- we're not talking about a strike, we're talking about a protest and you get a -- have a place for the picketers to be, but beyond that.

BREAM: That's the rub though, and 10 states have a legitimate investigation has to go on. Is it a strike or picketing, is it aimed towards unionization.

POWERS: By the way, I don't think they have a right to tell people whether they can strike or not. We're talking about -- it's a very narrow thing, protesting, and anybody who thinks that this is OK, what are we waiting for? They have no say in it whatsoever. It's a constitutional right, and it's a freedom of speech, it's a freedom of assembly. This is -- of all the areas you don't want the government you know, moving in on, this is it.

BREAM: But, this is aimed at unionization, it's different than a protest. 

FRED BARNES, EXECUTIVE EDITOR, THE WEEKLY STANDARD: And the whole NLRB case doesn't matter at all. The bigger picture here is that Wal-Mart is crushing the unions trying to unionize their employees. There are more than 4,500 Wal-Mart stores and warehouses, and you know how many of them have been successfully unionized? Zero. Three in Canada, and two of those have decertified the unions.

And even this protest, the have a petition that Wal-Mart needs to have more regular hours and so on. There are 1.4 million Wal-Mart employees. You know how many signed the petition? Fewer than 1,500. This is a puny protest that the press shouldn't be paying much attention to. The only thing that attracts the attention there may be, you know, fights or something outside of stores and people trying to get in tomorrow.

BREAM: And wait until tomorrow, black Friday.

BARNES: The truth is, union workers at Wal-Marts just do not want to be unionized.

BREAM: All right, well, here I want to say this from the Competitive Enterprise Institute, and I will list the first response of this is going to go to Kirsten, so, let's roll.


PATTERSON: What your labor is worth is what you receive. And if the employer feels you're worth more you'll get more. For lot of people complaining about their working conditions, they're perfectly free to go out and find another job or start a company of their own and how the free market works and should work.


BREAM: I teed it up, Kirsten, first shot to you.

POWERS: It's like, "Let them eat cake," who cares about these people?
You have a woman on there saying, I work, I have a job and I'm on food stamps. We should be concerned about that, look, if Wal-Mart doesn't care about that, I don't think it speaks very well of them.

And I don't think this idea that people should go off and find another job. Perhaps the reason a lot of people don't want to unionize is because they can't, they can't lose one of their many jobs, probably. I mean, these people are people who work very hard, and I think that they have a right to ask for better pay and health care and regular hours.
And by the way, there are a lot of complaints about Wal-Mart that go beyond even this, just the working conditions in the warehouses and things like that. So, I just -- that attitude to me is just so dismissive of legitimate grievances that workers have.

BREAM: All right, now, we want to leave on a positive note, because it's Thanksgiving and we have very short time, so, Charles, what are you thankful this year? I'll go around.

KRAUTHAMMER: To be a native of this country. If you are you won the lottery. One in 17 earthlings is an American, and if you are born here, you're lucky. My father was born in Austria, my mother in Antwerp, and my brother in Rio. I'm the only one that has the luxury of being born in the United States. And when you are, part of the most generous country on earth, the one those liberated the most people ever, and that's as close to -- I mean, that's the secular equivalent of grace.

POWERS: I agree with that, but I would add as a woman, I think that women in the United States are the most blessed of, in any country, and that, I mean, we have to be thankful every day for the freedom and opportunity that we have compared to what so many women in this world go through.

BARNES: And thankful for the women in my life. But right now what I'm thankful for, Robert Griffith III, the most exciting player in the National Football League in my lifetime.

BREAM: All right, we'll see if you still feel that way in a couple of hours. We'll check back. That's it for the panel.

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