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Wal-Mart closing unionized store
Retailer cites breakdown in union negotiations as cause for shuttering store in Quebec.
February 9, 2005: 10:23 PM EST

NEW YORK (CNN/Money) - Wal-Mart is closing a store in Quebec that was closest to reaching a union contract after the retailer could not reach an agreement with the union representing workers there.

After months of negotiation with representatives of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union, Wal-Mart (Research) said it will shut down its store in Jonquiere in the spring.

"It's a deeply disappointing day for us," Wal-Mart spokesman Andrew Pelletier told CNN. "The store in Jonquiere has been struggling for sometime economically, and in our view the union's demands failed to take into account the fragile condition of the store."

The company did not disclose how many workers will be affected, but said they would be offered "very generous packages which will far exceed what is required by law," including severance pay and career counseling.

Wal-Mart said it met nine times with union officials in recent months, but that those efforts did not result in an agreement.

The company said in a statement that the union walked away from the bargaining table on Feb. 1 and asked for arbitration.

A spokesman for United Food and Commercial Workers Union of Canada did not return a phone call seeking comment.

Workers at another Canadian Wal-Mart in the city of St. Hyacinthe are unionizing and the company plans to challenge the process.

Under fire in the United States for its employment practices, the world's largest retailer announced last year that it was overhauling its practices on pay, promotions, diversity and how cashiers are notified of their breaks. In 2003, Wal-Mart was accused of hiring illegal immigrants through a contractor and underpaying those employees.

Wal-Mart Canada employs about 70,000 at 256 Wal-Mart stores and six Sam's Clubs.

Wal-Mart stock fell about 1.3 percent in active New York Stock Exchange trading.  Top of page

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