Unions vs. Workers
By Thomas J. DiLorenzo
Most of the commentary on the ongoing propaganda campaign against Wal-Mart ignores what is probably the most important aspect of it: It is primarily a labor union-inspired campaign against Wal-Mart employees, as well as the company in general. This is the essential truth of all union organizing campaigns. Historically, all of the violence, libel, and intimidation that goes along with "organizing campaigns" has been directed at competing, non-union labor, not management. The Wal-Mart campaign is no different.
The propaganda campaign against Wal-Mart is what is known as a "corporate campaign" in the labor union literature. There are very few strikes these days in America; so-called "corporate campaigning" is the new form of organizing. Unions finally wised up to the fact that, while striking may be great fun, with all the name-calling antics, bashing in of car windows (of cars belonging to "scabs"), puncturing of tires, and destruction of company property, it rarely got them anywhere. In fact, if replacement workers are hired during a strike all union employees lose their jobs. Strikes increasingly became an all cost/no benefit proposition, which is why they are so rare these days.
There are several rationales for corporate campaigns. For one, they have been a way of unionizing a workplace without directly involving the employees in cases where unions know they do not have employee support. There have been many instances where unions have lost certification elections by very large margins, telling them that they have no hope of organizing a particular company's employees.
Rather than giving up, however, they will frequently initiate a corporate campaign against the company. The idea is to use every means possible to impose costs on the company, forcing it to increase its prices; embarrass the company's management with a campaign of slander; and portray the company in the media as some kind of social outlaw. It is easy for unions to generate such publicity with the assistance of various economically ignorant, capitalist-hating "nonprofit" groups, from clergy to environmentalists. If the company gives up and signs a union contract, all the complaints disappear immediately.
One tactic is to issue thousands of complaints about the company to regulators, who must then investigate the complaints, forcing the company to spend huge sums on legal fees. In addition, the union will issue press releases about how many complaints there have been about the company, implying that all the complaints are somehow real and legitimate.
This may cost the company some customers if the publicity is bad enough. In the 1990s the corporate campaign against the non-union grocery chain Food Lion caused the organization to shut down dozens of stores. (The company subsequently recovered as consumers discovered for themselves that the union's charges against Food Lion were bogus, but it still cost the company millions).
In Maryland recently, the state legislature — which is totally in the pocket of the state's unions — passed a law forcing Wal-Mart to provide its workers with expensive, governmentally-prescribed health insurance, something that will certainly drive up its costs and make it less competitive compared to unionized stores.
The ultimate goal is to get the company to sign a union contract without ever involving the employees, a process that labor scholars call "pushbutton unionism." So much for the fable of "union democracy."
The United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW), the largest union in the grocery industry, has been at the forefront of many corporate campaigns and is the chief organizer of the campaign against Wal-Mart. It is no secret that Wal-Mart's grocery prices are very much lower than they are in your typical, unionized grocery store chain. The "problem" facing the UFCW is that unionized grocery store chains tend to be much more expensive than non-union grocery chains (and often much dirtier and less consumer-friendly in general). Thus, they have waged long campaigns against such companies as Food Lion in an attempt to drive up grocery prices — all in the "public interest," of course.
As long as there is competition by the superior, non-union grocery stores, the unionized stores cannot compete as well with their bloated costs and their low-quality goods and service. The unionized stores will lose business to their superior, non-union competitors and may even go bankrupt. The union will lose members and, more importantly, dues revenues. Thus, the role of the corporate campaign, if it is successful, is either to unionize the non-union stores so that they will become just as expensive and inefficient as the unionized ones, or at least impose costs on the non-union companies that will achieve essentially the same outcome.
In either case, it is a patently anti-consumer policy that can only harm the employees of the "targeted" company. Consequently, the whole idea of a corporate campaign is based on a Big Lie: That the union is somehow concerned about the well-being of non-union employees at places like Wal-Mart. In reality, the objective of the union is to force every one of those employees to either join its union (and pay its expensive dues) or become unemployed. This is true of all corporate campaigns, including the ones against Nike and other companies operating in Indonesia.
While the media may portray unions as collections of Mother Teresas, concerned only with the plight of poor Indonesians, the reality is that the real objectives of the unions is to throw every last Indonesian who is employed by Nike out of work, forcing many of them to resort to begging, stealing, prostitution, or worse. That way, competition for higher-priced/lower quality textile goods produced in unionized factories in America will be reduced or eliminated. And the unions pretend to take the moral high ground in this patently immoral crusade.
America's universities are filled with economically ignorant haters of the free market, so university campuses have become major forums for union denunciations of such companies as Nike, Wal-Mart, and others. Faculty and students claim to be concerned about "social justice," but they are simply being used as dupes by unions who are not at all concerned with justice of any sort. Rather, their main concern is increasing the coffers of union treasuries by driving non-union competitors from the market.
The great majority of today's college students may never learn the principles of supply and demand, or understand how many billions of dollars annually companies like Wal-Mart save American consumers (including their own families), but they are indoctrinated as freshmen that any "moral" person should hate Wal-Mart, Nike, and other "outlaw" corporations (as defined by the union movement).
Economically ignorant clergy often lend a hand in this union crusade to throw thousands of people out of work, lending an aura of "God's work" to this immoral and anti-social crusade. And of course there are all the other usual suspects — environmentalists, "consumer activists," trial lawyers, and Wal-Mart's higher-cost competitors — who are happy to be a part of such smear campaigns because it satisfies their own self interests (or fattens their wallets) as well.
So far, millions and millions of Americans have expressed disagreement with the smears against Wal-Mart by the UFCW and its accomplices by shopping there in record numbers. As always, the public has nothing at all to do with such anti-corporate campaigns, which are always the work of small groups of union rabble rousers, intellectuals, and pundits desperate to portray themselves as being "on the side of the people."
The danger is if these opinion makers succeed in convincing enough politicians to follow the actions of the Maryland legislature, which is arguably the most economically ignorant group of legislators in America (I speak from experience, having testified several times before committees of these jokers). If this happens then the grocery industry will become less competitive, costing American consumers billions and destroying even more billions of dollars in shareholder wealth along with it.
Thomas DiLorenzo is professor of economics at Loyola College in Maryland and the author of The Real Lincoln (Three Rivers Press/Random House, 2003). His latest book is How Capitalism Saved America (Crown Forum/Random House, 2004). firstname.lastname@example.org. Comment on the blog.
Wal-Mart is being attacked by state governments as well. A state has a bill that will force wal-mart to hand over 10% of the stores profits to fund health care.
So if a state is forcing issues with wal-mart, it make perfect sense to me that JBUT's want the same thing for thier shrinking numbers over the past 30 years.
The JBUT's really dont want to go out and get a job, they are looking at othe sources of income.
That is Maryland, a very strong Democrat/Union state (despite their current Republican Governor).
I hate unions, and shop at WalMart just to spite them.
I usually post about the UFCW and thier
ongoing death struggle with WalMart every time
one of those WalMart bashing threads comes along.
About 80% of the anti propoganda stems from the UFCW,
or "studies" funded by them.
Yet, the kool-aid is still being consumed.
Ah, what do I know? I only do labor relations
for a living. Not like I pay attention to what's
going on with the industry I work in.
btw: There are still plenty of strikes....You just don't hear about them.
Socialist Maryland Workers Party. (aka, Maryland DNC)
Md. Legislature Overrides Veto on Wal-Mart Bill
Del. Anthony G. Brown (D-Prince George's), left, and Del. Kumar P. Barve (D-Montgomery) [laughing at Walmart] during debate on the health care measure.
Man that is fucked up. Certainly it should be unconstitutional to single out a company and steal their money for health care. But then of course you would think all of that socialist crap is unconstitutional.
From the article above:
So, where are all the anti-Walmarters here? Do they know they have been duped?
Funny thing is EVERY Wal-Mart employee, including part time have access to health care plans at pretty reasonable prices, starting around $35 a month. Wal Mart employees can actually get health care coverage while most of their competition offers squat.
SHHH! that doesnt convey the message THEY want you to think
Remember, ultimately Walmart holds all the cards. All they need to do is tell the unions and the states that they can't afford their demands and close the doors. When hundreds of thousands of people are out of work they will all be singing a different tune.
If I was Walmart that is exactly what I would do.
They closed a store in Canada instead of allowing a union to form, I see the healthcare issue as far more important... who's going after K-mart for healthcare? Talk about injustice.
Kmart is unionized.
KMart is Bankrupt as well.
But when you pass a law requiring the 5-or-so largest employers (everyone with more than 10k in-state employees, let's say) in your state to spend a minimum amount on health care, and 4 are huge commercial/industrial firms that (due to being uniionized or being in a high-end industry where health care iis offered to attract highly skilled (and high salary) workers) allready do... It sounds fair to the 'average' person, untill you compare the workforce of, say, Northrop Gtumman (big time govt contractor - in addition to making aircraft, they also build ships and provide a good portion of the civillian workforce for such places as Ft Eustis (small post, but if they do one, they probably do others...), among other things)... Get the picture?
To the average citizen, 'Oh, big companies have to pay for healthcare... good'
To me, or anyone who actually looks at it: 'WalMart is in a different industry from all of the other 4 employers... The other guys allready spend the money (and the gov knows it), WM doesn't... And the fact that the other 4 are either union, or have enough mid-to-upper-salary jobs (the kind that come with a health package because if you don't offer it the folks you want to hire go work for 'the other guy) to make the numbers... Compared to WalMart, where a huge portion of their workforce is low/no-skill entry level positions that do NOT come with health, because no one in the non-union world offers it...
Nope. Then your tradtional retailers will fill the gap back in.
Wal-Mart is the
ETA: And these more traditional retailers offer higher rates of pay with benefits. WM has staff trained to help their employees apply for .gov benefits because their pay scale is low and don't offer health benefits to their employees.
BTW: I think health insurance should be portable and not tied to an employer the same as car insurance.
How much of your perception of Walmart comes from the anti-Walmart media which is driven by the unions?
It can be, it's just that companies can negotiate cheaper rates and will usually pay part or all as a benefit. Think of it as the companies not offering car insurance.
None of it. I have 22 years of expierence in retail dealing directly with WM.
Now the libtards are pissing and moaning about the END OF CIVILIZATION AS WE KNOW IT...if WalMart is permitted to open up their own banks in the stores.
The dems claim that it will pull trillions out of the banking industry and cause a crash of biblical proportions to befall the American banking "industry".
Is that what explains all your posts about your friends?
They can't be to bad if you have stayed at your Job for 22 years and continued to perform for Wal-Mart.
My guess is he is a vendor not an employee.
ETA: Former compettitor.
Rosie? Is that you?
Wal-Mart is the
The unions are the
There are no good guys in this conflict.
Still, I have no doubt the unions simply want to shake down the Wal-Mart employees.
While it’s not like Wal-Mart employees are being held against their will. They can go work someplace else if they wish.
So I gotta go with Wal-Mart by default.
ETA: Has some hacker been at our similes?
Ironicly enough, you can thank the Detroit News and Free Press for that. They successfully busted several unions back in the mid 90's. They had about 5 unions go on strike and things very violent at first. They actually had a small riot outside of their main plant in Sterling Heights MI and the SHPD had to station police across from the plant entrance for almost a year. The strike itself lasted for nearly two years. Scabs were hired and the paper functioned normally. Over the course of the strike most employees either went back to work without a contract or found new jobs. The striking unions eventually made huge concessions and "went back to work". There hasn't been a major strike since. The irony is that the Detroit News is a very liberal paper.
I don't think that Walmart has anything to worry about and I don't think that Unions will ever successfully organize Walmart's employees. Actually, from what I've heard they don't pay all that bad (I've heard $8-$10/hour for store employees) and I don't see anything wrong with their tactic of working employees just enough hours to keep them in the part time category and keeping them from being eligible for benefits. I think Walmart is getting a worse rap then they deserve, and I've never seen a Walmart that was hurting for business.
That is just not true.
Wal Mart offers health insurance to all employees and their pay is comparable to or exceeds most the competition pays.
Laugh all you want it a damn fact.
This thread makes me want to go buy stuff at Wal-Mart.
A Substantial Number of Wal-Mart Associates earn far below the poverty line
In 2001, the last year for which Wal-Mart has released figures for most occupations, sales associates, the most common job in Wal-Mart, earned on average $8.23 an hour for annual wages of $13,861.The 2001 poverty line for a family of three was $14,630. [“Is Wal-Mart Too Powerful?”, Business Week, 10/6/03 and US Dept of Health and Human Services 2001 Poverty Guidelines, 2001]
A 2003 wage analysis reported that cashiers, the second most common job, earn approximately $7.92 per hour and work 29 hours a week. This brings in annual wages of only $11,948. [“Statistical Analysis of Gender Patterns in Wal-Mart’s Workforce”, Dr. Richard Drogin 2003]"
Wal-Mart Associates don't earn enough to support a family
The national median family budget in the United States for a two-person family (one parent and one child) in 1999 was $23,705, well above the average associate's annual wages of $13,861. [“Poverty and Family Budgets” online at www.epinet.org]
Wal-Mart can afford wage increases
Wal-Mart can cover the cost of a dollar an hour wage increase by raising prices a half penny per dollar. For instance, a $2.00 pair of socks would then cost $2.01. This minimal increase would annually add up to $1,800 for each employee. [Analysis of Wal-Mart Annual Report 2005]
Wal-Mart forces employees to work off-the-clock
As of the printing of their 2005 Annual Report, Wal-Mart faced 44 wage and hour lawsuits. Major law-suits have either been won or are working their way through the legal process in states such as California, Indiana, Minnesota, New Jersey, Oregon, and Washington. [Wal-Mart Annual Report 2005]
Wal-Mart was recently ordered by courts to pay up to 120 workers in Gallup, New Mexico and 400 workers in 27 stores in Oregon for violating wage and hour laws.
In 2002, statisticians estimated Wal-Mart shortchanged its Texas workers $150 million over four years by regularly not paying them for working through their 15-minute breaks. [Sources include Associated Press, "Federal Jury Finds Wal-Mart Guilty in Overtime Pay Case," Chicago Tribune, Business 3, 12/20/03 and Steven Greenhouse, “Suits Say Wal-Mart Forces Workers to Toil Off the Clock,” New York Times, A1, 6/25/02)]
Wal-Mart violates the Fair Labor Standards Act
One week of time records from 25,000 employees in July 2000 found 1,371 instances of minors working too late, during school hours, or for too many hours in a day. There were 60,767 missed breaks and 15,705 lost meal times. [Steven Greenhouse, “Suits Say Wal-Mart Forces Workers to Toil Off the Clock,” New York Times, A1, 6/25/02]
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Wal-Mart and Health Care
Download the Wal-Mart and Health Care Flyer - PDF
Wal-Mart’s Health Care Plan Fails to Cover Over 600,000 Employees
Wal-Mart reports that its health insurance only covers 48% of their employees. Wal-Mart has approximately 1.3 million US employees.
Wal-Mart’s Health Insurance Falls Far Short of the Industry Average
On average, large firms (200 or more workers) cover approximately 68% of their employees. If Wal-Mart was to reach the average coverage rate, Wal-Mart should be covering an additional 260,000 employees (Kaiser Family Foundation & Health Research and Educational Trust, 2004).
Wal-Mart’s Health Care Eligibility is Restrictive
Part-timers—anybody below 34 hours a week – must wait 2 years before they can enroll. Moreover, part-time employees are ineligible for family health care coverage. Full-time hourly employees must wait 180 days (approximately 6 months) before being able to enroll in Wal-Mart’s health insurance plan. Managers have no waiting period. (Wal-Mart 2005 Associate Guide)
Nationally, the average wait time for new employees to become eligible is 1.6 months. For the retail industry it is 2.8 months. (Kaiser Family Foundation & Health Research and Educational Trust, 2004)
Wal-Mart’s Most Affordable Health Plan is Costly
According to Wal-Mart, “We insure more than 500,000 associates, including many family members, who pay as little as $17.50 for individual coverage and $70.50 for family coverage bi-weekly.”
Wal-Mart’s most affordable plan includes a $1,000 deductible for single coverage and a $3,000 deductible for family coverage ($1,000 deductible per person covered up to $3,000). An average full-time worker earns $17,114 a year.
If a full-time Wal-Mart hourly employee elects for single coverage, the employee would have to spend on average 9% of their earnings before the health insurance provided any reimbursement.
If a full-time employee elected for family coverage, an average employee would have to spend 27% of their average earnings before the health insurance covered any costs. (Wal-Mart 2004 Associate Guide and UFCW Analysis).
Wal-Mart Admits Public Health Care Assistance is a “Better Value”
Despite $10 billion in profits, President and CEO Lee Scott said, "In some of our states, the public program may actually be a better value - with relatively high income limits to qualify, and low premiums." (Transcript Lee Scott Speech 4/5/05)
Wal-Mart’s Health Care is Only Getting Costlier
Since 2000, the cost of premiums has risen 169 percent for single coverage and 117 percent for family coverage. (UFCW analysis of annual Wal-Mart Associate Guides).
In comparison, premiums for family coverage in the U.S. have increased only by 59%, since 2000. (Employer Health Benefits: 2004 Annual Survey, Kaiser Family Foundation & Health Research and Educational Trust, 2004)
Wal-Mart Employees Pay More for Health Care Costs
In 2003, Wal-Mart employees, in total, covered approximately 40% of the plan costs (5500 Filings). Nationally, on average employees at large firms (over 200 employees) cover only 16% of single coverage costs and 24% of family coverage costs (KFF, 2004).
In a state analysis, the Massachusetts Department of Health and Human Services found that in 2003, Wal-Mart covered only 52% of total health care premium costs compared to K-Mart which covered 66%, Target which covered 68%, and Sears which covered 80%.
Wal-Mart Spends Less to Provide Health Care
Wal-Mart’s spending on health care for its employees falls well below industry and national employer averages. In 2002, as reported in the Wall Street Journal, Wal-Mart spent an average of $3,500 per employee. By comparison, the average spending per employee in the wholesale/retailing sector was $4,800. For U.S. employers in general, the average was $5,600 per employee, Therefore, Wal-Mart’s average spending on health benefits for each covered employee was 27% less than the industry average and 37% less than the national average. (Bernard Wysocki, Jr. and Ann Zimmerman, “Wal-Mart Cost-Cutting Finds a Big Target in Health Benefits,” WSJ September 30, 2003 p1)
Wal-Mart Only Spends 75 Cents an Hour Per Employee for Health Benefits
In 2003, Wal-Mart spent $1.4 billion on its health insurance. This amounts to an employer contribution of around only $0.75 an hour per employee. This accounts for approximately a half-percent of Wal-Mart's $259 billion in sales in 2003. (Wal-Mart 5500 Filings, Wal-Mart Annual Report).
Wal-Mart Increased Advertising More Than Health Care
Over the last two years (2004 and 2003), Wal-Mart has increased its advertising budget $724 million, which is more than half the $1.4 billion it spent in 2003 on health care -- the last reported year.
In fact, between 2002 and 2003, Wal-Mart put more new funds into advertising compared to health care. Wal-Mart increased spending on advertising by $290 million, while only increasing health care spending by $215 million for the same period. (note: this also occurred in 1999-98, 1998-97, 1995-96). (Wal-Mart Annual Reports and 5500 Filings)
Excluding his salary of $1.2 million, in 2004 Lee Scott made around $22 million in bonuses, stock awards, and stock options in 2004.
This $22 million could reimburse 3 states where Wal-Mart topped the list of users of state-sponsored health care programs, covering more than 15,000 Wal-Mart employees and dependents and costing state taxpayers between $21 to $24 million total. (WMT Proxy Statement and News Articles GA, CT, AL).
One Out of Seven Wal-Mart Employees Has No Health Care Coverage At All
This is nearly double the national percentage for large firms (firms with over 100 employees). In fact, we estimate that Wal-Mart accounts for more than 1 out of every 40 uninsured workers, who are employed at a large firm. (walmartfacts.com; Wal-Mart Annual Report; “Employer-Sponsored Health Insurance Coverage: Sponsorship, Eligibility, and Participation Patterns in 2001,” Bowen Garrett, Ph.D., released by the Kaiser Family Foundation September 2004).
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Costs to Taxpayers
Download the Wal-Mart and Cost to Taxpayers fact sheet - PDF
Your tax dollars pay for Wal-Mart's greed
The estimated total amount of federal assistance for which Wal-Mart employees were eligible in 2004 was $2.5 billion. [“Harper’s Index,” Harper’s Magazine, Vol. 310, No. 1858, 3/2005]
One 200-employee Wal-Mart store may cost federal taxpayers $420,750 per year. This cost comes from the following, on average:
$36,000 a year for free and reduced lunches for just 50 qualifying Wal-Mart families.
$42,000 a year for low-income housing assistance.
$125,000 a year for federal tax credits and deductions for low-income families.
$100,000 a year for the additional expenses for programs for students.
$108,000 a year for the additional federal health care costs of moving into state children's health insurance programs (S-CHIP)
$9,750 a year for the additional costs for low income energy assistance.
[THE HIDDEN PRICE WE ALL PAY FOR WAL-MART, A REPORT BY THE DEMOCRATIC STAFF OF THE COMMITTEE ON EDUCATION AND THE WORKFORCE, 2/16/04]
Your tax dollars subsidize Wal-Mart's growth
The first ever national report on Wal-Mart subsidies documented at least $1 billion in subsidies from state and local governments.
A Wal-Mart official once stated that “it is common” for the company to request subsidies “in about one-third of all [retail] projects.” This would suggest that over a thousand Wal-Mart stores have been subsidized. [“Shopping For Subsidies: How Wal-Mart Uses Taxpayer Money to Finance Its Never-Ending Growth,” Good Job First, May 2004]
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Download the Wal-Mart and Community Impact Fact Sheet - PDF
Wal-Mart wages negatively impact overall wages
The influx of big-box stores into San Diego would result in an annual decline in wages and benefits between $105 million and $221 million [San Diego Taxpayers Association (SDCTA)]
“[The threat of Wal-Mart's incursion into the southern California grocery market] is already triggering a dynamic in which the grocery stores are negotiating with workers for lowered compensation, in an attempt to re-level the `playing field.’” [Rodino and Associates]
Lower wages mean less money for communities
When an employer pays low wages to its employees, the employees have less money to spend on goods and services in the community, which in turn reduces the income and spending of others in the community. In other words a reduction in wages has a multiplier impact in the surrounding area.
For instance, in 1999, Southern California municipalities estimated that for every dollar decrease in wages in the southern California economy, $2.08 in spending was lost-- the $1 decrease plus another $1.08 in indirect multiplier impacts. [“The Impact of Big Box Grocers in Southern California” Dr. Marlon Boarnet and Dr. Randall Crane.]
Longer term effects of Wal-Mart can be disastrous
Over the course of [a few years after Wal-Mart entered a community], retailers' sales of mens' and boys' apparel dropped 44% on average, hardware sales fell by 31%, and lawn and garden sales fell by 26%.
In towns without Wal-Marts that are close to towns with Wal-Marts, sales in general merchandise declined immediately after Wal-Mart stores opened. After ten years, sales declined by a cumulative 34%. [Kenneth Stone at Iowa State University, “Impact of the Wal-Mart Phenomenon on Rural Communities”]
Wal-Mart stifles competition
A Congressional Research Service report in 1994 explained that Wal-Mart builds stores in nearby connected markets in order to stifle any competition in the targeted area by the size of its presence. [Jessica Hall and Jim Troy, “Wal-Mart Go Home! Wal-Mart’s Expansion Juggernaut Stumbles as Towns Turn Thumbs Down and Noses Up,” Warfield’s Business Record 1 (July 22, 1994]
Wal-Mart destroys the environment
In October 2004, the United States sued Wal-mart for violating the Clean Water Act in 9 states, calling for penalties of over $3 million and changes to W-M building codes. [U.S. v. Wal-Mart Stores Inc., 2004 WL 2370700]
The United States Environmental Protection agency fined Wal-Mart $1 million, settling allegations that Wal-Mart violated the Clean Water Act with dirt discharges while building stores in Massachusetts, New Mexico, Okalahoma, and Texas. [Wal-MartLitigation.com]
The Pennsylvania Environmental Protection Department fined Wal-Mart $100,000 for polluting rivers. [Business Week, 5/31/99]
Wal-Mart was fined $765,000 for violating Florida’s petroleum storage tank laws at its automobile service centers. Wal-Mart failed to register its fuel tanks, failed to install devices that prevent overflow, did not perform monthly monitoring, lacked current technologies, and blocked state inspectors. [Associated Press, 11/18/04]
In Georgia, Wal-Mart was fined about $150,000 for water contamination. [Atlanta Journal- Constitution, 2/10/05]
Wal-Mart increases vehicle traffic
A study of estimated additional driving costs of Supercenters in the San Francisco Bay area concluded that there would be up to an additional 238 million vehicle miles traveled per year.
These extra miles traveled could cost communities in the Bay area up $ 256 million in additional costs for infrastructure repair and environmental degradation. [Supercenters and the Transformation of the Bay Area Grocery Industry: Issues, Trends, and Impacts. Bay Area Economic Forum, 2004]
Wal-Mart desecrates sacred grounds
In 2004, Wal-Mart built a 71,902-square-foot store near the Pyramids of the Sun and Moon in San Juan Teotichuacan, Mexico. Teotihuacan was called "the place where the gods were created" by the Aztecs. [Kinght Ridder, 10/25/04]
In 1993 in Southern California, Wal-Mart, faced with threats of a nationwide boycott if it proceded with a development project that have destroyed Indian burial grounds, which Indians consider to be as holy as a church, synagogue or mosque. Wal-Mart was forced to compromise with the Indian activists by building a monument on store property to honor the grounds. [Los Angeles Times, 10/16/93]
Wal-Mart reached a tentative settlement with a nonprofit group in Hawaii that alleged Wal-Mart violated state law dealing with the protection and preservation of human remains and desecration of graves while constructing a store in Honolulu. [KHNL-TV/KHBC/KOGG, HI. 7/19/2005]
Wal-Mart's empty stores are blighting communities
Wal-Mart’s rapid expansion of Supercenters and Sam's Clubs has contributed to hundreds of vacant stores across the country. [“Wal Mart site: Use as is or rebuild?”, Dallas Morning News, 2/20/02]
When Wal-Mart decides to convert a discount store into a larger Supercenter, it is often cheaper or easier simply to relocate entirely. David Brennan, associate professor of marketing at the University of St. Thomas, in St. Paul, Minn, notes that Wal-Mart stores relocate so regularly that, “it is not uncommon to relocate right across the street." [“Home Depot to Move from Old to New Store Next Door,” Providence News-Journal, 8/17/03]
Wal-Mart plans to build another 55 million square feet of store space this year, or roughly the equivalent of 1,000 football fields or 15 Pentagon buildings. [Wal- Mart Annual Report 2005]
Big box retailers will most likely enter a community, only to be among the first to consolidate or fold when conditions begin to change. [“The Impact of Big Box Stores in S. California,” Dr. Marlon Boarnet]
In 2001, Wal-Mart controlled around 30 million square feet of vacant retail space through ownership or leases. [Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, 1/28/01]
Vacant property drains the value from the surrounding area, whether commercial or residential.
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Wal-Mart and China
Wal-Mart buys much of its merchandise from China
Wal-Mart reports that it purchased $18 billion of goods from China in 2004.
Wal-Mart is responsible for about 1/10th of the U.S. trade deficit with China.
[“U.S. Stock Investors Wary of Analyst `Yuan Plays': Taking Stock, Bloomberg, 7/1/05]
If Wal-Mart were an individual economy, it would rank as China’s eight-biggest trading partner, ahead of Russia, Australia and Canada.
[China Business Weekly, 12/02/2004]
Many of Wal-Mart's “American Suppliers” actually manufacture most or all of their products in China
An example of an “American Supplier” is Hasbro. Today, Wal-Mart is the largest purchaser of Hasbro products—accounting for 21 percent of all Hasbro goods or more than $600 million in sales. But Hasbro reports, “We source production of substantially all of our toy products and certain of our game products through unrelated manufacturers in various Far East countries, principally China.” Hasbro specifies that “the substantial majority of our toy products are manufactured in China.” [2004 Hasbro 10-K filed with the SEC]
Wal-Mart's Chinese factory workers are treated poorly
Workers in China’s Guangdong Province who made toys for Wal-Mart toiled as much as 130 hours per week for wages averaging 16.5 ¢ per hour (below the minimum wage) and no health insurance. [National Labor Committee, “Toys of Misery 2004,” February 2004]
Striking workers at a factory that supplies Wal-Mart in Shenzhen, China said they had to work 11 hour days, including mandatory 3 hours of overtime. Half of their small wages were deducted to pay for accommodation in company dormitories. [New York Times, 16 December, 2004]
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Wal-Mart and Worker Injuries
Wal-Mart cares little for the safety of its workers
West Virginia’s Employment Programs Performance Council voted to put Wal-Mart into the “adverse risk” pool, raising the premiums by 15%. Only employers with unusually high accident rates are placed in that pool. [Charleston Gazette, 6/3/99]
The United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit has upheld a $5,000 fine against a Wal-Mart store in Hoover, Ala., for blocking emergency exits. The court upheld a decision by a judge who found that Wal-Mart was guilty of a serious and repeated offense. [New York Times, Steven Greenhouse, 5/17/05]
Wal-Mart takes a combative approach to workers’ compensation claims
Arkansas Business described Wal-Mart as “the state’s most aggressive” when it comes to challenging worker’s compensation claims. The company “stands far above any other self-insurer in challenges to employee claims.” [Arkansas Business, 1/8/01]
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Wal-Mart Non-Health Care Benefits
Wal-Mart fails to provide a secure retirement benefit for its employees.
Wal-Mart sponsors two retirement plans — a profit sharing plan and 401(k) plan — neither of which guarantee workers a fixed monthly pension benefit.
Wal-Mart has shifted risks to employees by concentrating investment in its own stock.
From January 2000 to January 2005, the average adjusted share price of Wal-Mart’s stock lost more than a fifth of its value. By being concentrated in one security, employees’ retirement plans are subject to the whims of one stock rather than having the safety of a diversified portfolio.
Wal-Mart's retirement plans are Enron-like -- in 2003, 67% of their combined assets were invested in Wal-Mart stock.
Wal-Mart shares little of its $10 billion profits with employees.
Wal-Mart has stated that it has contributed around 4 percent of its earnings to its combined profit sharing and 401(k) accounts. For 2003, this would come out to a $302 a year contribution per employee.
Wal-Mart shifts retirement costs onto communities
When employees retire without adequate savings and benefits, they are less able to pay for health care, housing, and food. Communities and taxpayers ultimately bear the cost.
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Wal-Mart Anti-Union Policy
Wal-Mart closes down stores and departments that unionize
In 2000, when a small meatcutting department successfully organized a union at a Wal-Mart store in Texas, Wal-Mart responded a week later by announcing the phase-out of its in-store meatcutting company-wide. [Pan Demetrakakes, "Is Wal-Mart Wrapped in Union Phobia?" Food & Packaging 76 (August 1, 2003).]
A Wal-Mart employee in Quebec filed a request in a Canadian Superior Court seeking a class-action lawsuit against Wal-Mart Canada, saying the retailer’s decision to close a Jonquierre, Quebec, store after its employees received union certification violated the rights of its workers, and entitles them to compensation and damages. [Quebec Union Seeks Class-Action Suit vs. Wal-Mart,” Supermarket News, April 22, 2005]
Wal-Mart has issued "A Manager's Toolbox to Remaining Union Free,"
This toolbox provides managers with lists of warning signs that workers might be organizing, including "frequent meetings at associates' homes" and "associates who are never seen together start talking or associating with each other." The "Toolbox" gives managers a hotline to call so that company specialists can respond rapidly and head off any attempt by employees to organize. [Wal-Mart, A Manager’s Toolbox to Remaining Union Free at 20-21]
Wal-Mart is committed to an anti-union policy
In the last few years, well over 100 unfair labor practice charges have been filed against Wal-Mart throughout the country, with 43 charges filed in 2002 alone.
Since 1995, the U.S. government has been forced to issue at least 60 complaints against Wal-Mart at the National Labor Relations Board. [International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU), Internationally Recognised Core Labour Standards in the United States: Report for the WTO General Council Review of the Trade Policies of the United States (Geneva, January 14-16, 2004)]
Wal-Mart’s labor law violations range from illegally firing workers who attempt to organize a union to unlawful surveillance, threats, and intimidation of employees who dare to speak out. [“Everyday Low Wages: The Hidden Price We All Pay for Wal-Mart," A Report by the Democratic Staff of the Committee on Education and the Workforce, 2/16/04]
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Wal-Mart & Gender Discrimination
Download the Wal-Mart and Gender Discrimination fact sheet - PDF
Wal-Mart does not treat its female employees fairly
In 2001, six women sued Wal-Mart in California claiming the company discriminated against women by systematically denying them promotions and paying them less than men. The lawsuit, Dukes v. Wal-Mart, has expanded to include more than 1 million current and former female employees, and was certified on June 21 2004 as the largest class action lawsuit ever. It is now being appealed by Wal-Mart.
In 2001, while more than two-thirds of Wal-Mart's hourly workers were female, women held only one-third of managerial positions and constituted less than 15 percent of store managers. This is all despite women having had on average longer seniority and higher merit ratings than their male counterparts.
[Neil Buckley and Caroline Daniel, “Wal-Mart vs. the Workers: Labour Grievances Are Stacking Up Against the World’s Biggest Company,"” Financial Times 11, 11/20/03]
In 2001, women managers on average earned $14,500 less than their male counterparts. Female hourly workers earned on average $1,100 less than male counterparts. [Drogin 2003]
In 2001, for the same job classification, women earned from 5 percent to 15 percent less than men, even after taking into account factors such as seniority and performance. [Drogin 2003]
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Wal-Mart & Child Labor
Download the Wal-Mart and Child Labor fact sheet - PDF
Wal-Mart violates Child Labor Laws
An internal Wal-Mart audit found "extensive violations of child-labor laws and state regulations requiring time for breaks and meals.” (New York Times, 1/13/04)
One week of time records from 25,000 employees in July 2000 found 1,371 instances of minors working too late, during school hours, or for too many hours in a day. There were 60,767 missed breaks and 15,705 lost meal times. (New York Times, 1/13/04)
Wal-Mart agreed to pay $135,540 to settle child labor violation charges in January 2005 for allegedly breaking child labor laws in 24 incidents. (Wall Street Journal, 2/12/05)
Connecticut Governor M. Jodi Rell announced that the state found 11 violations in three Wal-Mart stores in the state and that 337 minors worked at the company's 32 Connecticut stores from 2003 to 2005. The probe came after the Labor Department in February said the retailer had similar violations nationwide. (Bloomberg News, 6/22/05)
Wal-Mart has also been fined $205,650 for 1,436 violations of child labor laws in Maine for the period 1995 to 1998. The settlement represents the largest number of citations as well as the largest fine ever issued by the Maine Department of Labor for child labor violations. (Bureau of Business Practice News)
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Wal-Mart & Undocumented Immigrants
In March 2005, Wal-Mart agreed to pay $11 million to settle federal allegations it used undocumented immigrants to clean its stores. [CNN Money, “Wal-Mart pays $11m over illegal labor”, 2005]
Since 1997, federal authorities have uncovered the cases of at least 250 undocumented immigrants who were employed by janitor contracting services and hired by Wal-Mart in 21 states. Many of the janitors - from Mexico, Russia, Mongolia, Poland and a host of other nations - worked seven days or nights a week without overtime pay or injury compensation. Those who worked nights were often locked in the store until the morning. [CNN Money, “Wal-Mart pays $11m over illegal labor”, 2005]
So what? It's RETAIL. Don't like making just enough to survive, get a REAL job!
Retail is a real job or at least it use to be till WM came on the scene. A person could make a decent living working full time at a retail establishment. I know I did.
And a truck driver used to be able to take home $1,000 per week AND be home Friday night till Monday morning, every weekend.
The only constant is change.
I like reading you posts, but that is just the kind of propaganda that the original story was referring to.
We had a Walmart thread about a month ago and nearly all the so called "facts" about Walmart were debunked by credible sources (including ARFCOM members who work at Walmart (labor and management)).
ETA: You do realize that your post quoted the NY Times as a credible source.
You post this like it is a bad thing.
I was a manager of a regular everyday type grocery store. I then moved up to corporate level. I know how WM works. While I know some of the info provided is scewed against WM it is a good example as to what has happened to retail pay and benefits.
At one time a person could make a decent wage and have benefits working in retail. WM changed all of that.
One day WM taking over retail will come back to haunt us.
ETA: However if I get my product lines in WM I will love them.
It is retail not aerospace.
Most of what is in that drivel is either so old as to not matter or a misrepresentation.
The average hourly wage for full-time is $10.11 an hour. The majority of Wal-Mart people are full time 34+ hours per week. In most retail full time makes up 20-40%.
Wal-Mart insures 46% percent of it employees that is average for retail.
Both full and part time can get individual coverage $23 per month.
You may not. I have heard that they put the screws pretty hard on their vendors.
Let's see...unions or WalMart?
Guess I'll be heading on down to WalMart early tomorrow to do some shopping. A box or two of ammo...some junk for the missus and my heart meds...that ought to do it!
That's the truth.
However, when you move as much merch as Wal-Mart does, you earn the right to dictate the terms!
Well, it is nice to know Wal-Mart is our country's salvation and all union people are evil.
I wish.gov wold swoop in and make my employer give me health ins. at all.
I have none.
Why did they makeWalMart give without makeing everyone give?
So what should WM pay for a job that requires about a 5th grade education? Is it WM's responsibility to support people who shouldn't be having kids if they don't have the means to raise them? If they don't like the pay they should acquire the skills/knowledge for a job that does! Most of the people I know started out making crap and worked their way into better situations - bitchin' & moanin' don't get it done. A career as a cashier ain't got much potential anywhere that I'm aware of.
This all boils down to .gov dictating what the "free" market will do and bear.
Government intrusion = more regulation = higher prices = less money in YOUR pocket.
Please explain this in more detail. I want to make sure you're saying what I think you're saying.
Instead of a person being dependent on employer provided health care you can buy it yourself instead. Just like your employer does not buy your car insurance.
ie. free market
And they bought Sears not long ago
I hate Walmart.
But I hate unions more.
My county has banned SuperWalmart and SuperTarget grocery stores (they are non-union). Soon after the ban all the prices in the local groceris went up. They no longer have any fear of competition.
Unions suck John Kerry's dick!!!