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by hoops, Mohr Park,
on Mar 14, 2012
Just one question....It seems the major complaint againt Walmart is their low wages.So am I missing something or what the hell is the local union leader quoted in the paper saying when he says the permit should be appealed because Walmart is taking away jobs from the other local groceries???So the workers at Safeway are going to quit and go work at Walmart for half the pay without benefits??
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Posted by Michael
a resident of Downtown
on Mar 14, 2012 at 12:02 pm
As it turns out, Hoops, yes, you're missing quite a lot. You might consider reading the voluminous literature on Walmart. It's not very pretty.
Wages are indeed an issue. I think it is amusing that the GOPers on these threads, so against govt subsidies, are not at all troubled that most Walmart workers qualify for govt food stamps. In a word, it is virtually impossible to raise a family on a Walmart wage. (Gary, above, is simply a bald-faced liar. Walmart's wages tend to be minimum wage or even less than minimum wage in "right-to-work" states. And most Walmart workers work less than 40 hours per week.)
Walmart subcontracts out a lot of its labor, especially in the 3rd world where its subcontractors 'employ' children, work them to the bone for ungodly hours, at the end of a machine gun barrel, and pay them next to nothing. In Korea, dozens of workers recently threatened to engage in a mass suicide in order to draw attention to the abysmal conditions of work they experience under Walmart's control.
Walmart, far more than any other grocery chain, is frequently subjected to class action law suits, many of which have been successful. Walmart hires most of its workers at below full-time hours -- usually between 24 and 32 hours, which then frees Walmart from treating them like full-time employees (with benefits and pensions).
Walmart suppresses efforts of their workers to organize. The surveillance techniques and punitive measures it directs against its employees are legendary. Twice in Canada, workers unionized a Walmart. In both instances, Walmart shut down the store rather than deal with unionized workers calling for full-time work at a fair wage.
Most people who are opposed to Walmart, like myself, do not belong to a union. This is not a union issue, per se, but rather involves a host of human issues.
Now, from what I can judge, a lot of the posters here at PW don't give two hoots about the human issues. And they castigate any Walmart critic as a union sock puppet. Why do they do this? One, although Walmart's groceries are in fact not cheaper than their competitors (hard to employ child labor in California, though Walmart would if it could), the kinds of goods they have children and starving workers (mostly women) produce overseas enables them to sell teeshirts and belts and toys and coffee makers at a price less than their competitors. Given that some people tend to be amoral and self-interested (see Stacey and Kathleen Ruegsinegger and Steve and Arnold and the rest of the clown club), they turn a blind eye to Walmart's inhuman practices, as they'd sell their own grandmother to an antebellum slave plantation if they thought it would save them a buck or two.
They also claim to be supporters of freedom. Freedom to shop. Freedom of Walmart to treat its employees any way it sees fit. Ideologues, one and all, they hate unions (they hate A LOT of things and people) which, for all their considerable flaws, have for over a century in the US waged the good fight against inhuman conditions of work. I'm certain unions would love to mediate the relationship between Walmart execs and their employees. But that's not going to happen. Walmart has too much pull, economically and politically for that to happen.
Yet another Walmart will likely increase competition among grocers for a finite consumer base. Union workers at unionized stores will be cut, as likely will nonunionized workers at nonunion stores be cut. Many will be hired for reduced hours and wages at Walmart. The ideologues here want to see a world increasingly like Walmart. In some twisted fashion, they think an increasingly Walmartized world will be a freer world. They seem to relish in the idea that there are millions of workers, collecting food stamps, working 24-hour weeks, while they themselves live in the wealthiest small city in America and may be able to save a few pennies at the grocery store. It boggles my mind. But there you have it.
I invite you to do something that I've done on occasion. Walk into a Walmart some late night or early morning. Check out the workers. They won't talk to you about the conditions of their employment, because to do so is grounds for being fired. But look at the expressions on their faces. Ask them how they're doing, and you'll likely get a tired 'Well, tryin' ta hang in there', or 'One day at a time', or "It could be worse!'
But hey, Walmart is only a grocery store. And I want my freedom to shop.