Wal-Mart is Coming, but it's Not All Bad: Wal-Mart and Labor Rights in its International Subsidiaries

58 Pages Posted: 12 Dec 2007 Last revised: 18 Nov 2008


This article analyzes Wal-Mart's conduct in its international operations from a comparative and transnational labor law perspective. It shows that while Wal-Mart is fiercely anti-union in its home operations, its subsidiaries do not necessarily act the same way abroad. In fact, rather than simply exporting its rather distinct animus towards unions and collective bargaining, Wal-Mart generally adapts to host-country institutional, political, and regulatory environments. Consequently, Wal-Mart peacefully co-exists with unions in most countries outside of North America.

The article concludes that a) contrary to predictions of its imminent demise, local and national-level labor regulation and industrial relations systems remain relevant, even in the context of a anti-union MNC; and b) that the diffusion of MNCs, particularly low standard ones such as Wal-Mart, can possibly function in certain contexts as labor rights catalysts in both host and home countries.

Keywords: Wal-Mart, transnational labor regulation, comparative labor law, international labor rights, freedom of association, labor law

Suggested Citation

Kolben, Kevin, Wal-Mart is Coming, but it's Not All Bad: Wal-Mart and Labor Rights in its International Subsidiaries. UCLA Journal of International Law and Foreign Affairs, Vol. 12, p. 275. 2007, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1068381

Kevin Kolben (Contact Author)

Rutgers Business School ( email )

1 Washington Park, #982
Newark, NJ 07102
United States
973-353-1648 (Phone)

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