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Wed, Aug. 21

Union's actions stem from spite

Perhaps the people of Prescott Valley should be grateful that a Phoenix-based labor union cares so much about them.

Local 99 of the United Food & Commercial Workers, which represents supermarket workers, has joined with local opponents to start a petition drive to overturn the Town Council's unanimous rezoning of land at Glassford Hill Road and Florentine to allow a Wal-Mart.

"We just feel it is important to let the voters decide whether it should be done," said Paul Ulan, a political consultant representing the union. "You are right next to a neighborhood. A majority of neighbors are opposed to the rezone."

The effort should have little trouble gathering 518 signatures ­ 10 percent of the number of voters that voted in the 2005 town elections ­ to put the matter on the ballot. But it will surprise many if 60 percent of the voters in that $7,000 expense to the taxpayers don't ratify the rezoning.

The has happened before in Kingman, Flagstaff and Winslow. All three communities now have Wal-Marts. Successful recalls of mayors followed the referendums in Kingman and Winslow. Town officials say they've had an inquiry about a recall against Mayor Harvey Skoog.

The union is in a tough spot. It's difficult to justify drawing dues from members working at other local stores if it isn't fighting to unionize jobs at Wal-Mart.

It's possible that in competing for workers with other big-box stores and grocery retailers that Wal-Mart well might pay better wages than the union thinks.

Thus the union's only remaining weapon seems to be spite.

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