Menards is a large Midwestern home improvement chain most notable for the virulent anti-union mentality exhibited by its billionaire Republican owner. How much does Menards hate its own employees? Let us look.
Menards owner John Menard—richest man in Wisconsin, major donor to Scott Walker, and workplace overlord who forces his employees to sit through anti-union seminars—oversees the third largest home improvement chain in America, after Home Depot and Lowe’s. He has tens of thousands of employees. (He also controls the company privately, so its policies cannot be blamed on anyone else.) Last week, Menards made news when it was revealed that it made managers sign a contract stating they would lose 60% of their pay if employees formed a union on their watch.
That provision has reportedly been removed after a backlash ensued, but not soon enough to prevent a complaint against the company being filed with the National Labor Relations Board by the Office and Professional Employees International Union (OPEIU). The culture at Menards remains one in which it is not, you know, fun to work. The Menards employee handbook (dated 2010, but still in use) includes this overview of the company’s view of employee relations:
Even by the standards of corporate retail chains, which all hate unions, that statement is rather blatant.
Among the company’s “moral and legal effort to maintain our good Team Member relations,” according to the complaint by OPEIU, is an unlawful attempt to ban gossiping in the workplace. Here is a portion of a Menards “Team Member Pay Rate Increase Merit Review Eligibility Notice” document, listing the reasons that a manager might cite for denying a raise to an employee—a list in which “Gossips” is prominently included:
In any case, we hope that Santa brings John Menard a very strong union drive for Christmas.