The Evil Empire

Some people laugh at me when I tell them that I will not set foot inside a Wal-Mart. Never will. No way. No how.

But the prices are soooooo good!

You get better service than at Zellers or Canadian Tire!

You’re just being anti-American!

In the latest of a series of events that has further cemented my anti-Wal-Mart position, the MotherCorp reports that the retail behemoth faces class action charges due to gender discrimination. Big surprise.

In its 6-5 ruling, the 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals said the world’s largest private employer will have to face charges that it pays women less than men for the same jobs and that female employees receive fewer promotions and have to wait longer for those promotions than male counterparts.

The retailer, based in Bentonville, Ark., has fiercely fought the lawsuit since it was first filed by six women in federal court in San Francisco in 2001, losing two previous rulings in the trial court and again in the appeals court in 2007.

The Bentonville Leviathan

Wal-Mart is now the world’s biggest corporation, having passed ExxonMobil for the top slot. It hauls off a stunning $220 billion a year from – more in revenues than the entire GDP of Israel and Ireland combined.

But what about the workers – they look pretty happy to me!

  • The average employee makes only $15,000 a year for full-time work. But most don’t receive even this much cuz they’re held to part-time work. While the company brags that 70% of its workers are full-time, at Wal-Mart “full time” is 28 hours a week, meaning they gross less than $11,000 a year.
  • But shurely they get health-care benefits? Only if you’ve been there two years; then the plan hits you with such huge premiums that few can afford it-only 38% of Wal-Marters are covered.

But they are just like any other business, right? And what is wrong with that?

  • Just before opening each morning there is a pep rally, where they are all required to join in the Wal-Mart cheer: “Gimme a ‘W!’” shouts the cheerleader; “W!” the dutiful employees respond. “Gimme an A!’” And so on. There is a word for these types of groups. They are called cults. They are NOT like any other biz.

If things are so bad, why haven’t the workers organised?

  • HA! Wal-Mart is in fact rabidly anti-union, deploying teams of union-busters from Bentonville to any spot where there’s a whisper of organizing activity. “While unions might be appropriate for other companies, they have no place at Wal-Mart,” a spokeswoman told a Texas Observer reporter who was covering an NLRB hearing on the company’s manhandling of 11 meat-cutters who worked at a Wal-Mart Supercenter in Jacksonville, Texas.
  • These employees were sick of working harder and longer for the same low pay. “We signed [union] cards, and all hell broke loose.”  Eleven days later, Wal-Mart announced that it was closing the meat-cutting departments in all of its stores and would henceforth buy prepackaged meat elsewhere.
  • Here in Canada, an attempt by the employees in Jonquière to organize ended with Wal-Mart closing down the whole store. They would rather split town than to deal with unionized workers. Business Week had a great piece on the story behind this.
  • Now, I am not a big union gy, but I do believe that if workers want to organise, then they should be allowed to without retribution form the employer… and certainly without the fear that an entire establishment might be shut down due to their actions!

C’mon Trashy, they can’t be THAT bad?

  • Workers’ compensation laws, child-labor laws (1,400 violations in Maine alone), surveillance of employees-you name it, this corporation is a repeat offender. No wonder, then, that turnover in the stores is above 50% a year, with many stores having to replace 100% of their employees each year, and some reaching as high as a 300% turnover!
-You’re just being anti-American!
I am NOT anti-American. Never have been. But I am anti-Wal-Mart and anti poor-planning!
You get better service than at Zellers or Canadian Tire!
Maybe. But at what cost to your friends and neighbours who work there?
– But the prices are soooooo good!
Again, maybe they are. But what cost are you willing to accept to pay 40 cents less for that toothpaste?

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3 Comments to “The Evil Empire”

  1. Fat Arse says:

    Excellent post, … too bad your observations are so bang on. They simply reinforce what I have long suspected: WALMART= where cultures go to to DIE!

  2. Ken says:

    Ever seen the movie “Wall-E”?

    If you haven’t, you should. The company in the movie, Buy ‘N Large, is the “bad guy”, but so is the desire for humans to consume and consume and consume and consume…

    • trashee says:

      It’s one of my favourite animated movies!
      The trashing of the futuristic Earth is the result of wanton consumption without regard to the cost – and the corporation, BNL, promotes this as it is in their interest to do so.
      Such is the case with Wal-Mart – the bottom line is king without regard for the consequences.
      But as long as the majority of folks feel that quantity trumps quality and price trumps ethics, WQal-Mart ain’t going anywhere…

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