Post # 1
So, I know a lot of people hate Wal Mart, and I get it, I do. But here’s what I don’t get and wish I had an answer for. When you go into almost anywhere from Target to Gucci and look at the labels, they all say “made in China/Taiwan/Vietnam/etc”. Just because these companies didn’t have a documentary made about them does not mean that they don’t exploit workers in 3rd world countries just as badly. The company that makes Mac stuff has had 8 suicides this year (Foxx Con) but no one seems to complain about the iPhone. Someone please explain to me why Wal Mart gets so much crap?
Post # 3
I think the difference is in how Wal-mart treats their employees, and also how it undercuts competitors, which are often locally owned shops. Pretty much every brand out there uses overseas labor (those $2,000 wedding gowns? Sewn by somebody making around $65 a month in wages. Seriously). I think that there is a long ways to go for all companies in that respect, but because of Wal-mart’s size and influence on the global market, it goes so much deeper than that.
Post # 4
- Wedding: May 2011 - Bartram's Garden
Crayfish got it right. My major issue with Wal-Mart is how they treat their employees.
They pay their employees very low wages and their benefits package is dreadful. There have been allegations that they’ve forced employees to work off the clock and denied them overtime pay or breaks. They’ve been accused of gender discrimination and of breaking child labor laws.
I also don’t like the fact that they refuse to sell certain books, magazines, and CDs, but they have no problem selling firearms.
Post # 5
You should watch the HBO show Bullshit with Penn and Teller. They have an episode on Walmart which pretty much debunks what most people complain about with Walmart. Walmart is touted as evil by companies forced to use unionized labor. Walmart doesn’t have a laborer’s union, which is one way they keep their prices down. I won’t go into everything they said on the show, but Walmart is a basic capitalist company like any other. I agree that the company is unfairly marked.
(Disclaimer: I haven’t read danadelphia’s post, so I’m not sure what your title is referring to.)
Post # 6
I see what you mean. Walmart is not the only corporation out there that really needs to shape up its act. However I think Walmart is special for many reasons and yes one of those reasons is that Walmart is more exposed…
It is one of the LARGEST and most shopped retailers in this country. Therefore its practices are exponential and much farther reaching. It can force a lot of companies’ practices because for many, if you don’t sell to wal-mart you lose the market.
It is one of the LARGEST employers in this country. Its track record for employee treatment is awful.
Walmart is much more pervasive than many other big stores. They are building on the periphery of every community. I grew up in a small town with walmart on the periphery. It has forced out small businesses and people are getting wise and fighting back with their consumer purchases and blocking the store from expanding because they want local businesses.
I’ll agree that in many respects Target is similar.
Post # 7
Why is unionization so demonized? Unions played a crucial role in our country!
Post # 8
And because unions are so vehemently kept out of Walmart, they are more free to abuse workers!
Post # 9
The problem with WalMart is their scale – they are the nation’s (world’s?) largest retailer. To get the cheapest products for sale, they have to get the cheapest wholesale products – so they buy from the lowest bidder worldwide. The cheapest goods are never going to come from American workers – or from non-exploited foreign workers. If you want American made goods, and American manufacturing jobs back, you have to pay for it – which sadly, not tons of Americans are willing to do.
They are very anti-union, and many grocery stores across the country are unionized (WalMart is also one of the largest grocery stores now). When they put unionized grocery stores out of business, it’s not just jobs lost – it’s good jobs with benefits/pensions lost in favor of low-paying jobs with little/no benefits. Whether you’re pro-union or not, unions offer employee protections, high wages and better benefits that WalMart doesn’t offer. They pay low wages to their employees, and because the pay is so low employees are eligible for all sorts of state and federal aid that they wouldn’t be eligible for if the corporation paid more living wages and paid for health coverage. We get cheap goods, and in exchange basically subsidize higher rates of housing assistance, TANF (“welfare”), state paid school lunches, food stamps, etc.
I’m sure the Gucci bags made in China are made by exploited workers, and yeah, that’s not cool. But Gucci and Mac just don’t have the market share that WalMart has, and don’t impact workers and communities the way WalMart does.
Post # 10
@MightySapphire: Thank you for pointing this out! Wal-Mart is absolutely unfairly targeted. My husband actually worked there as a cart boy when he was in high school. Years after he worked there he got a notification trying to get him to sign on as a petitioner in a law suit against Wal-Mart based on unfair break time policys. Basically every employee would make like $16 and the lawyers would get paid millions, simply because they targeted a major corporation. My husband was perfectly happy when he worked there and felt he was paid and treated fairly. It’s easy to target Wal-Mart because they are so successful. This is a capitolist economy, we function based on a supply and demand model. They obviously will try to price cut where ever possible (without consideration for competitors.. because they are just that, competitors). They are a publicly traded company which has a responsibility to their shareholders to be as profitable as possible. Don’t get me wrong.. I don’t love Wal-Mart and I don’t shop there very often, but I’m a business student and I have done plenty of studies on them.
Post # 11
@danadelphia: You are absolutely correct! I had the misfortune of working for Wal-Mart for 2 years. Because I was a woman (and even though I had more education) I was started out $0.40 per hour less than the high school boy that was hired with me. I was skipped over for breaks and when I complained they made me wait even LONGER. I was told that I would be getting 32 hours a week and they dropped me to 12. I was also denied the opportunity to opt in for insurance (on my measly $75 a week) due to a pre-existing condition and they threatened to fire me over my health. Wal-Mart can go to hell as far as I am concerned.
Post # 12
@Bamboo: We were threatened with employment termination if we decided to form a union and one of our “training” videos was dedicated solely to demonizing unions. It’s really criminal.
Post # 13
@Bamboo: Unions are demonized because the union leaders are out for their own money, not their employees. My experience with unions was when Safeway had a strike back in the 90’s. My mom crossed union lines to work there as a cashier for $16 per hour. A freakin cashier making that much!! And what was the strike for? To demand dental coverage for their BAGGERS among other things. That’s just BULL$h!+. And Safeway eventually had to cave because they were losing so much business because no shoppers wanted to cross the noisy union lines. And they never really recovered from that, and to this day Safeway has the highest prices nationally. The unions KILL companies by making UNREASONABLE demands which force the company to comply or go bankrupt.
A union should only do the following:
- Keep the workplace safe
- Keep the workplace fair
- Ensure PROPER pay/benefits for it’s employees
Unfortunately they don’t do that, and it is the consumers who suffer. If I ever really needed a job, I would work at Safeway, so I could get my medical/dental and triple the minimum wage to do a simple job requiring ZERO training.
@Moose1209: My Brother-In-Law worked for Walmart, and he never had any issues either. He felt he was paid fairly, promoted fairly, scheduled fairly. He wasn’t sure he would be since he’s gay, but it was never an issue.
I think Walmart is often accused of systemic problems, but the problems are probably not systemic but isolated to regions. (Some regions treat women unfairly as a whole, some treat certain races/ethnicities unfairly.) Perhaps the “problems” at Walmart are actually cultural problems here in America.
Post # 14
gabrielleelise1981 wrote exactly what I was going to say.
It also drives me nuts to hear people say keeping workers from becoming unionized is a good thing. (Well, it IS a good thing – for the Walton family’s bottom line.) I understand that some unions are run badly, just as some corporations are run badly, but the fact remains that without unionization, we’d still all be working 12 hour days with no weekends and no minimum wage.
There’s a middle ground between unions taking employees’ dues without giving them anything in return and companies being free to run roughshod over employees who can’t quit in protest because they need the job to pay the rent. Unfortunately, the word “union” has been hijacked much like the word “welfare”, and now it just causes a knee-jerk negative reaction in people and shuts down discussion before it even begins.
Post # 15
@Potatoes: Why did you continue to work there for two years?
Post # 16
@madcat: I completely disagree. Perhaps VERY low skilled workers (like the majority of employees at Wal-Mart) would be working longers hours without unions. But not all of us. I work in an industry that is not touched by unions and I work fair hours, for plenty of pay, with excellent benefits. To understand the negative side of unions all you have to do is look at the total destruction of the auto industry in the USA. Their union members would rather LOSE THEIR JOBS because the company goes bankrupt than agree to a pay cut. Probably not the best system in the world.