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April 08, 2005


Au contraire. The likelihood of Coughlin being prosecuted in the current political environment for "antiunion" activities is probably a lot less likely than for embezzlement or fraud. Certainly it would mean that Walmart was less zealous in going after him, as they might otherwise be if it were true embezzlement.

And with an executive of Couglin's stature and experience at least within his own company, I think the response I have seen most in corporations I have worked in is that if you can't save your job, then salvage your reputation. Otherwise he is in for a long winter of being unemployable at another company in a key position or, if he's retiring for good, of having ended his career in an embarrassing fashion that makes him somewhat radioactive to all of the friends and colleagues he's built up over the years on the job.

So what do you think he'd rather be known for--as an overzealous protector of his company, or a mere embezzler with a new reputation as a rich man who was so greedy he had to cheat the company out of a couple grand here or there?

I think he'd rather actually protect the company than implicate it in his systematic anti-union criminality. That's why I say he'll cop to embezzlement -- that way he's the only person under indictment. If he exposes the "union project," the company will feel a lot of heat.

Here's my take, and it hinges--admittedly a risky move--on this sentence out of the WSJ article:

The payments went to former, rather than current, union people who had information about union activities at Wal-Mart.

Maybe it's a meaningly semantical point, but I take that to mean former union sympathizers or activists from within the Wal-Mart employees, not the paid organizers of UFCW. However, but floating out there that it may have been staffers of "the union" that were involved, that continues to perpetuate Wal-Mart's story that the union is corrupt and just after their union dues.

Besides, with all the legal and semi-legal means to crush unions already at their disposal, I'm not sure why Wal-Mart would make it a policy to engage in something that would open them up to legal action that could be enforced with sharper teeth than the usual ULP's that the NLRB can't enforce in time to actually have an effect on the organizing drive.

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