APWU Board Calls for Boycott of Circuit City
05/15/2007 - The National Executive Board of the APWU has voted unanimously to support a boycott of Circuit City stores, due to the retailer’s despicable treatment of its employees.
The NEB vote was in response to the company’s dismissal of 3,400 workers, comprising 8.5 percent of its workforce. The firings, announced in late March, “had nothing to do with performance but were part of a larger effort to improve the bottom line” according to an article in The Washington Post.
In a cost-cutting measure, the 600-store chain fired its highest-paid, most senior non-managerial workers, saying that the dismissed employees were earning more than it wanted to pay. The company, based in Richmond, VA, announced that it planned to fill most of the positions, and invited the laid-off workers to re-apply for their old jobs — at substantially lower pay — in 10 weeks.
Most of the laid-off employees averaged between $10 and $11 an hour; some of the dismissed full-timers, however, earned as much as $40,000 annually. Inexperienced new hires can expect to be paid about $8 an hour, industry watchers said.
An employee at the San Diego Circuit City who earned $18.72 per hour was fired because the company wage cap for the computer department was $15.50, the Post reported; an employee who earned $11.59 per hour at the Asheville, NC store was one of 11 workers to be discharged there.
The fired employees were instructed to leave immediately after being notified they were being let go. They were granted severance pay, averaging $2,912 per person.
Shortly after the firings were announced, APWU’s Philadelphia BMC Local became one of the first labor organizations to endorse a Circuit City boycott. Local President Vince Tarducci announced that a motion calling for a boycott of the retail chain passed unanimously at the local’s April 12 general membership meeting.
The dismissals may be backfiring. The Washington Post reported on May 2 that the electronics retailer expects to post a first-quarter loss in June, and industry analysts are blaming the job cuts. Circuit City has gotten rid of some of its most experienced salesclerks and is losing business to competitors with more knowledgeable employees, they said.