On Friday, I was sitting in my favorite office away from the office when a group of about six plops themselves right down next to me and begins to hold a meeting.
First, introductions are made all around. The first two to introduce themselves are union leaders. One guy mentions that he is the local President of the union that represents the workers in most of the supermarkets. The other guy is a regional representative. The rest of the folks introduce themselves as members of a homeowners association with two of the ladies proudly proclaiming they are currently in appeal on a case against a proposed Walmart Supercenter in their neighborhood.
Now the two unions representatives take a very serious tone. They talk about Walmart suing neighborhood associations and their members. The homeowners are quiet. Sensing that they’ve got a bite, the union leaders move to set the hook. They explain, “We can help. We’re paid to stop Walmart to protect union jobs.”
One of the ladies explains how she is pursuing her lawsuit. She wants the city’s hands slapped for ignoring her. She starts a rant against the city and Walmart. “Walmart disrupts lives without any concern about the lives of people. The city lied to us… blatant disregard of our efforts.” The empathic union rep responds, “That’s how Walmart works.”
The homeowner’s voice begins to grow in volume “I pay taxes. The city needs to be punished and Walmart needs to be punished.” She starts in again on her current appeal. The regional union representative realizes he must regain control of the discussion.
He says, “Your current approach is only going to slow down the building of the new Walmart.” He reminds her there is a bigger goal, “Make sure that there are no Walmarts.” Talk moves onto the “broad picture.” Problems with capitalism and a big company’s ability to get bigger and bigger. A lecture ensues on the Sherman Anti-trust Act.
All nod in agreement as he recites the gospel, ” Walmart is controlling market prices.” He explains that 26% of Albuquerque MSA market is controlled by Walmart. However, that apparently is the good news. They say that controlling over 30% of the market is a “potential” anti-trust violation and according to the economic analysis conducted by the union, Walmart will soon control 57% market share in Albuquerque.
A plan is revealed.
The union representatives paint a picture where they can work together to get Attorney General, Patsy Madrid, to enforce anti-trust laws. The regional rep says, “What we propose is that through neighborhood committees you write letters and make efforts to contact Patsy Madrid… It relates very specifically to your fights…. A trigger for Patsy Madrid is when this new supercenter tops 30% market share.
He goes on to promise, “The union will help write the letter.” And then he educates the gathering on New Mexico politics. “Patsy Madrid because of term limits is serving her last term. Rumor is that she is going to run against Heather, and she needs an issue that she can hang her hat on.”
The regional rep explains, “The union is excited. This has the potential to have the government get involved in the fight against Walmart. We can attack them on this different ground and force someone to look at the big picture.”
Alas, I have to go to another a meeting, so I grudgingly close my laptop and stop my frantic notetaking. Although, not before I catch this gem, “We can save New Mexico.”