© John Leaver | Dreamstime.com
Used to be, if you were annoyed by the antics of big business, you’d pick on General Motors, world’s biggest, most arrogant, automobile manufacturer.
Difficult to be anything but sorry for GM these days, as they Hummer their way into business oblivion.
No, these days if you want to vent your spleen regarding unpleasant aspects of big business, Wal-Mart is your most appropriate target.
After all, these are the guys who have rolled back prices so relentlessly that they’ve rolled up entire industries and sent the jobs and our treasure to China, at the expense of zillions of decent paying blue collar jobs in the U.S.
And, as an employer, they are infamous for poor pay, are niggardly with benefits, and have fought an equally relentless battle against unionization, lest their workers have any real means of changing their working conditions.
Those friendly greeters? Just minimum wage retirees who are really posted at the door not to smile weakly at you, but rather to make sure that shoplifters exiting the store are caught.
Just to be certain that their own underpaid and cowed staff stays that way, they have begun a campaign, documented by the Wall Street Journal, no less, to warn their managers and supervisors that a prospective Democratic presidential administration endangers Wal-Mart’s non-union status.
Wal-Mart Warns of Democratic Win
By ANN ZIMMERMAN and KRIS MAHER | August 1, 2008; Page A1
Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is mobilizing its store managers and department supervisors around the country to warn that if Democrats win power in November, they’ll likely change federal law to make it easier for workers to unionize companies — including Wal-Mart.
In recent weeks, thousands of Wal-Mart store managers and department heads have been summoned to mandatory meetings at which the retailer stresses the downside for workers if stores were to be unionized.
According to about a dozen Wal-Mart employees who attended such meetings in seven states, Wal-Mart executives claim that employees at unionized stores would have to pay hefty union dues while getting nothing in return, and may have to go on strike without compensation. Also, unionization could mean fewer jobs as labor costs rise.
Wal-Mart is far from the only employer that opposes the Employee Free Choice Act (co-sponsored, by the way, by a certain junior senator from Illinois), but as the largest private employer in the U.S. they certainly have the most to lose, and that largest body of private employees in the U.S. has the most to gain.
Wal-Mart’s worries center on a piece of legislation known as the Employee Free Choice Act, which companies say would enable unions to quickly add millions of new members. “We believe EFCA is a bad bill and we have been on record as opposing it for some time,” Mr. Tovar said. “We feel educating our associates about the bill is the right thing to do.”
By “educating” managers, who are salaried, Wal-Mart is obeying the letter of Federal election laws. When they harangue supervisors, who are hourly, they might be in violation.
As a resident of a major metropolitan area, I was able to resist the temptation to shop the Wal-Mart experience until just a few years ago, when they completed their mission of sucking the life out of countless rural Main Streets, and had no choice but venture into the evil big city in order to maintain their growth targets.
Thus, I only have set foot in a Wal-Mart store a couple of times over the years, and in their warehouse operation, Sam’s Club, a few more (since that one opened less than a mile from home some years ago), but I find them depressing and dispirited places to do business, and I simply will no longer do business at either.
Their competition for general merchandise, Target, is by way of contrast, a far more cheerful environment, both in the look of the stores, and the demeanor of its employees.
Costco, their warehouse club competition, runs rings around them. Business Week stated years ago that this was easy to explain: Costco pays their workers more (more than double), but gets far more productivity from those well compensated and well trained employees than does Wal-Mart from their poorly paid and trained workers. [As a confirmed shopaholic, I could visit Costco almost daily. My long suffering wife sees that I don’t.]
Perhaps Wal-Mart shouldn’t fight so hard against unionization; as their competition has discovered, paying well, and training thoroughly makes for a happier, more productive workplace.
Meanwhile, the government might want to check into the propriety of a corporation electioneering its hourly workers. Oh, wait, George III’s government wouldn’t dream of intervening on the side of the law, if it might be politically disadvantageous to do so.
Wal-Mart is correct: a Democratic presidency might mean some trouble for their take no prisoners human resources practices.
That couldn’t happen to a more deserving bunch of redneck creeps.
It’s it for now. Thanks,