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all_i_want 02-09-2005 02:55 PM

Wal-Mart: the trail of low prices
It turns out Wal-Mart's shady labor practices are just as profitable as their satellite tracking systems.

Wal-Mart pays very low wages to their immigrant workers. I believe they should be forced to pay equal wages to immigrants and american workers. these people would agree.

These workers keep WalMarts costs low so they can keep their prices low. I disagree.

Here's a BusinessWeek article:

'Declaring War On Wal-Mart

By Aaron Bernstein in Washington

Critics have had a field day with Wal-Mart stores Inc. (WMT) in recent years, coining the term Wal-Martization to slam it for everything from alleged sex discrimination to poverty-level wages. The world's largest retailer finally got so fed up that it launched a 100-newspaper ad blitz in January to get out the message that "Wal-Mart is working for everyone."

Far from calming the critics, however, Wal-Mart's move has been more like blood in the water -- particularly to organized labor, which is gearing up to launch what's likely to be its most ambitious effort ever against any company. The centerpiece: a massive national campaign to spotlight Wal-Mart's employment practices.

The aim isn't to unionize the retailer's 1.6 million workers, although that's still a long-term goal. Instead, the AFL-CIO intends to exploit Wal-Mart's image problems to drive away some business -- enough, it hopes, to get the Bentonville (Ark.) company to alter its policies. "This will be an effort by the entire labor movement," vows AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Richard L. Trumka. Wal-Mart spokesperson Sarah Clark denies that the company's low prices depend on low wages. "Evidently [labor leaders] feel they gain an advantage by making us look bad with a new publicity campaign," she says.

Labor's plans come as Wal-Mart is vulnerable on several fronts. The company's stock price has remained virtually flat for five years, due in part to Wall Street's disappointment at the retailer's single-digit same-store sales growth. And all the negative publicity has hurt Wal-Mart employees' morale. As a result, some shoppers now find them less friendly and courteous than they were in the late '90s, says Chris Ohlinger, CEO of Service Industry Research Systems Inc., a market research firm that conducted a study on Wal-Mart customer attitudes. Says Wal-Mart Director of Investor Relations Pauline Tureman: "There are probably people who've made the decision not to shop at Wal-Mart because of the public criticism, but we can't quantify it".

Given this backdrop, unions could inflict real pain. The AFL-CIO is planning an effort modeled on its powerful get-out-the-vote political machine. Headed by a veteran labor and Democratic politico, Ellen Moran, it aims to engage hundreds or even thousands of union members to do mailings, phone banks, and work-site visits to convince labor households and, later, the public, that Wal-Mart undercuts living standards. The campaign won't call for a boycott, but labor leaders say focus group studies they've done show that some people may shop elsewhere if told of Wal-Mart's actions.

The campaign will be bolstered by a nonprofit umbrella group, the Center for Community & Corporate Ethics, founded late last year by the Service Employees International Union with $1 million in seed money. Its goal: to coordinate Wal-Mart's disparate critics, from women's groups to environmentalists. "Wal-Mart hurts small merchants, destroys habitats, and increases profits at the expense of local communities," says Sierra Club Executive Director Carl Pope,a center board member.

Wal-Mart's low prices remain irresistible, especially to the working poor who labor aims to help. Even so, if all its critics gang up, the company could have its hands full protecting its image. '

najeena 02-09-2005 04:41 PM

I'd rather spend a little more than put money into the Walmart coffers. I've never stepped foot into one of their stores, but I feel for those who must because they've driven all other local businesses into the ground.

nbcrusader 02-09-2005 04:48 PM

Oh, and the ALF-CIO is the model for integrity? Just follow the money. No matter what, the consumer will end up losing.

the iron horse 02-09-2005 05:38 PM

Are you saying Wal-Mart is not paying minimum wage to some employees?

"The aim isn't to unionize the retailer's 1.6 million workers, although that's still a long-term goal."

Yeah, not yet...but get ready.

Wal-Mart is now getting slammed on the side of the barn with Big Tobacco and Fast Food as another evil that must be either fixed or eliminated.

all_i_want 02-09-2005 06:06 PM

my understanding is that, since theyre illegal immigrants, they dont have Social security numbers and they can be paid less, because walmart doesnt pay their social security premiums. but im not entirely familiar with the US system, so i cant exactly point out whats going on

melon 02-09-2005 06:19 PM

Wal-Mart just closed a store in Quebec that voted to unionize.

God I hate Wal-Mart. I will never spend one single cent there, and, to this day, I never have.


the iron horse 02-09-2005 07:13 PM

"my understanding is that, since theyre illegal immigrants, they dont have Social security numbers and they can be paid less, because walmart doesnt pay their social security premiums. but im not entirely familiar with the US system, so i cant exactly point out whats going on."

Thanks for the reply all_i_want,

I'm not sure either.

U2utah2U 02-09-2005 08:13 PM

I've gone the rounds over Wal-mart with some co-workers. The bottom line for me is, diapers are cheaper at Wal-mart than Target or any other megamart. As long as the diapers are cheaper...that's who's getting my underpaid wages.

Sorry, but a lot of the "causes" I took on when I was younger simply did not fit into the reality of my life with a wife and kid. I'm not saying that I've given up everything I believed in, I've simply had to decide what are the priorities in my life.

And, cheaper diapers means more money to spend on U2. :wink:

EDIT: Plus, how can "Selena" on DVD for $7.99 ever be a bad thing. That's J.Lo at her finest and only at Wal-mart for that low, low price.

Macfistowannabe 02-09-2005 09:48 PM


Originally posted by melon
Wal-Mart just closed a store in Quebec that voted to unionize.

God I hate Wal-Mart. I will never spend one single cent there, and, to this day, I never have.


I'm not a union buff, I worked for one for a grocery store part time. It basically doubles what they take out of your check for taxes. Walmart is hated for not having unions. I don't hate them, but I don't shop there. Too far away, but everyday low pricing would be nice. Needless to say, they don't normally have sales and coupons because they are EDLP.

Waterman981 02-09-2005 10:17 PM

Being a manager at a grocery store I am very much against Walmart. In the city my store is in, Walmart got the city council to approve a new super-center. From what I understand when it is finished it will be the largest in America. The people of the city went out to voice their opinions several times against it, but the city council didn't listen. They were listening to the $$$ Walmart was promising. I can tell you there is no way any of them will get re-elected, their political careers are over. I am not just opposed to their labor practices, but their business practices in general are very ugly.

Yeah.. I hate Walmart. :mad:

U2utah2U 02-10-2005 07:18 AM

But Waterman (you work at Macey's right?) How is it that I go to Macey's to buy some Minute Maid orange juice and it's $6.00 a gallon and it's $4.00 at Target and $3.75 at Walmart? Granted, the Macey's in Provo is geared more towards college students and low-income families. Beans, rice and Ramen noodles are cheap BUT they're cheap everywhere. Macey's prices for specialty items are through the roof.

How is it that Walmart can offer such low prices. I mean, I don't mind paying a little more to support a locally owned and operated grocery store, but I can't justify spending 30% more on groceries.

Maybe I need to be enlightened of their ugly labor and business practices. I mean, "Supersize Me" has made me avoid McDonalds for the most part and evaluate my fast-food intake overall. I am teachable. Enlighten me.

BVS 02-10-2005 07:25 AM


Originally posted by U2utah2U

How is it that Walmart can offer such low prices.

By running legal but highly unethical business practices, and by bullying their way into markets.

I can get into details later but I have to run.

beau2ifulday 02-10-2005 07:29 AM

I don't buy from Asda (which is what Wal Mart is called in the UK) for those reasons (amongst others, which i'm sure don't need to be named) - I read an article a few years back about their treatment of immigrant workers. I know that unfortunately it is the case that the majority of immigrants lack social security numbers and so can be paid lower than the minimum wage, but I have no respect for corporations who choose to take advantage of this fact. I cannot comprehend why anyone would choose to exploit workers, yet alone a global corporation like Walmart who can afford to pay them the correct wage. I would think that that would just be in the human nature to treat all workers equally, but obviously not. Of course, that'e before even considering their trade sources and the even more severe exploitation that's going on there.

cardosino 02-10-2005 07:33 AM


Originally posted by BonoVoxSupastar

By running legal but highly unethical business practices, and by bullying their way into markets.

I can get into details later but I have to run.

Partly true.

Also because they have truly mastered the art of Supply chain Management.

There is NO-ONE out there who does it as well as they do, it's what got K-Mart into trouble.

Wal-Mart's mastery of Supply chain Management is to be admired, and studies of it are standard material in business schools.

Having said that, I won't shop there under ANY circumstance whatsoever.

Where would Jesus shop? Not Wal-Mart.
by Brian Bolton

Wal-Mart proudly touts that it saves consumers money by forcing suppliers to cut the fluff and get competitive. For most clock-punching employees of Wal-Mart’s stores, warehouses, and suppliers, however, lower prices equal lower wages.

The recent raid of Wal-Mart stores by federal agents yielded 300 illegal employees of the cleaning companies under contract with Wal-Mart. Racketeering charges have been filed on the immigrants’ behalf against the cleaning vendors and Wal-Mart. The suit claims Wal-Mart managers were aware of workers’ illegal alien status and cooperated with cleaning contractors to demand extra hours without extra pay.

Wal-Mart benefits from its lower-cost vendors, who manufacture many Wal-Mart products in Mexico, China, and Bangladesh. Laborers in these factories frequently work more than 80 hours per week for a few dollars a day. These factories are the reason apparel-maker Levi Strauss is closing its last U.S. manufacturing facilities this year. After 150 years of making jeans at 60 U.S. factories, Levi’s will sell only imported jeans and has introduced a low-price line at Wal-Mart in hopes of saving its failing business. When manufacturing jobs float overseas, many U.S. workers turn to one of Wal-Mart’s 1.3 million jobs—not much of a consolation prize.

Most "full-time" Wal-Mart employees don’t see 40-hour weeks and, at an average of $7.50 per hour, barely make enough to shop at their own stores. While Wal-Mart is the largest U.S. employer, it is also one of the most controversial, as current domestic labor disputes reveal. For instance, the United Food and Commercial Workers union in Southern California is protesting Wal-Mart’s incoming "supercenters," which will undercut existing retailers in the area.

MEANWHILE, WAL-MART steers employees away from unions, resorting to extremes when necessary. After Wal-Mart opened its first supercenters nationwide, meat workers frustrated by low pay, lousy benefits, and abusive treatment voted themselves into the first successful union presence at Wal-Mart. Wal-Mart responded by closing all of its fresh-meat departments and eliminating those jobs.

Almost 1.5 million current and former female employees are suing Wal-Mart in California’s largest sex-discrimination case in history. The plaintiff’s case, according to Fortune magazine, shows that as Wal-Mart "associate" rank increases, the number of female employees decreases, and that men’s salaries are consistently higher than women’s salaries at all employment levels. Wal-Mart spokesperson Mona Williams told Fortune, "We’ve spent so much time making sure we had a world-class distribution system and supplier network that we probably did not pay as much attention to making sure we got the personnel stuff right." Wal-Mart is now busy trying to change its public image, but Wal-Mart needs more than a makeover. It needs accountability.

Who provides both power and conscience to Wal-Mart? Shoppers and shareholders, so far, have consented that lower prices and more stores are more important than honorable vendor and employment standards. It is inconceivable that Wal-Mart, king of counting the financial cost, is unaware of the human cost of wage levels and working conditions in its suppliers’ businesses. Wal-Mart’s power comes with responsibility to pay just wages. With hundreds of thousands of Wal-Mart employees below poverty-level income, corporate contributions to community and charity are not enough.

Wal-Mart expects to reap $1 billion in sales of "Christian" merchandise in 2003, only the doorstep of a much larger market. Evidently, Christians are shopping at Wal-Mart. But what are we buying, when a dollar saved in the store is another dollar squeezed from the life of "one of the least of these?"

Preachers and Sunday school teachers need to be asking Christians more about what our dollars support, and in Wal-Mart’s case, who’s paying for consumer "savings." A favorite preacher of mine says, "If you want to know what people care about, look in their checkbook" (or Visa statement, as the case may be). Our purchases ought to reflect deeper values than just "always low prices." Christians have asked Wal-Mart for cleaner magazine and CD content. Perhaps it’s time to demand cleaner corporate character as well.

U2utah2U 02-10-2005 07:36 AM

Yes, details would be nice. It's just that I hear the same rhetoric time and time again--Walmart treats their employees poorly, they run local businesses into the ground, they're the corporation of the devil (yes, I've heard that!)

Now, I realize there is a lot more going on here than I would probably like to know or admit. I mean, our whole American mercantile and retail industry is based on cheap labor. Why single out Walmart? Is it because they're getting a bigger piece of the pie?

Years ago in Utah it was 7-Eleven that was driving out the little guy. They would build one 7-Eleven on a corner opposite a local gas station. Then, they would build another identical station across the street. So, at an interesection they're would be two 7-Elevens and one local store. 7-Eleven would undercut the competition, drive them out of business and then raze one of the 7-Elevens. Now that seems unethical, but my Dad worked at 7-Eleven and that's how he put food on the table. It is a much more complicated situation than to just point the finger and say "You're evil, Walmart."

In addition, I probably shouldn't be buying Minute Maid orange juice because that just helps Coca-Cola, another of Satan's companies.

So, I'm willing to check out any articles that you all can point me to. But again, I'm tired of the same-old "Walmart sucks" smear campaign. Let me see some hard facts. Maybe that's the problem. Maybe that kind of information is difficult to obtain.

--average American that shops at Walmart.

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