It’s a big target (as it were): Wal-Mart. The 800-lb. retailing gorilla that everyone (in a blue state) loves to hate.
This nanocorner of the ‘Sphere© has done its share of W-M disparagement: a tongue not-so-deep in cheek look at Wal-Mart’s function as armory to the red state militia; a look at rising prices in China, Wal-Mart’s sweatshop of choice; Wal-Mart’s key role in the rise of the compact fluorescent bulb; and most recently, a casual backhand at Wal-Mart in the context of another (supposed) 800-lb. gorilla in its business, Starbucks.
But, the NYTimes has detected a change, in a corporation previously known for its penny-pinching ways where employees and their pay and (almost non-existent) health benefits are concerned,
For decades, Wal-Mart was associated with low wages, skimpy health insurance coverage and poor treatment of workers — and not without reason. An internal memorandum in 2005 showed that though Wal-Mart earned $10 billion a year, 46 percent of its workers’ children were uninsured or on Medicaid.
…and whose growth model has been, in the ineffable prose of yr (justifiably) humble svt: “…in the manner of Wal-Mart (which has for all of its over 40 years eviscerated locally owned Main Street stores wherever they open)…”
Wal-Mart: The New Washington
By MICHAEL BARBARO | Published: February 3, 2008
OBAMA, Clinton, McCain, Romney … Wal-Mart?
It’s making sweeping commitments to reduce America’s energy use and improve its health care system. It’s obsessively polling voters, boasting of a higher favorability rating than Congress. It’s even touting an “economic stimulus plan for American shoppers” in the form of steep price cuts made last week. (Four 12-packs of Pepsi? $10.)
That last one may be slightly tongue in cheek — even discount retailers have a sense of humor — but the bigger message is not: after years of running afoul of the United States government on labor and environmental issues, Wal-Mart now aspires to be like the government, bursting through political logjams and offering big-picture solutions to intractable problems.
As the federal government debates how to wean the country from its addiction to oil, Wal-Mart just announced it would require suppliers to make major appliances that use 25 percent less energy within the next three years.
A stunning change. Imagine, maybe one can get better productivity from employees who can afford health insurance coverage for their children. Imagine, one can do well by doing good.
A new concept for the pirates of Bentonville, Arkansas, which looks to be finally beginning to initiate the process of starting to think seriously about pulling its weight as a corporate citizen of the nation that bore it.
[Please click the link below for the complete article — but then please come on back!]
Wal-Mart points with pride that they have a higher (by far) approval rating than our current President, and Congress.
A very low bar to scale.
They’ve a long way to go before this blue-state citizen will set foot in one of their relentlessly downscale stores again (even though there’s a Sam’s Club less than a mile away, the MUDGE household cheerfully drives a mile in the other direction to Target, or even 10 miles further to Costco; there is no comparison).
But, the effort has been noted. And with their size, and their reach, even small progress means a better deal for its employees, and its home country.
It’s it for now. Thanks,
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