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Picture 4The headlines said it all.  A Walmart in Ohio was holding a food drive, for their customers to donate canned goods to help their poorly paid employees.  The Walton family is one of the richest families in the world.  Yet, they can’t pay their workers a living wage. Not only do they suck on the taxpayer’s tit, the ultimate welfare kings and queens, but they now expect their customers to supplement the income of their employees.

With luck, this is the beginning of the end.

Walmart sounds a bit like Scientology.  When they want to harass and discuss things with their workers, who step out of line, say, demanding normal rights, they are “coached” about it.  Evidently they have now run afoul of the National Labor Relation’s Bureau to the point where they need a little CEO change.

The Pink Flamingo is doing things a little differently this weekend.  I’ve been collecting headlines, articles, and links about Walmart for nearly a year. Thanksgiving weekend is the perfect time to sit back and just delve into a series of very disorganized posts that are more a primer about Walmart, how to fight them, and just what they are doing, bringing down our economy.  Instead of shopping there, this weekend, just sit back and read what they are doing to destroy our economy.

Democrats EDWORKFORCE.GOV

Democrats EDWORKFORCE.GOV

Once upon a time, when I fell prey to conservative brainwashing, I though Bernie Sanders was the embodiment of socialist evil.  Now, though, he’s just another fairly straight-shooting guy who truly has this nation’s best interest at heart.  That’s a far cry from Rush Limbaugh who has spent nearly a quarter century trying to destroy him.  He recently said that what Walmart has done to America is a great obscenity.  I agree 110%.

“…According to Wal-Mart Subsidy Watch, Wal-Mart has received, “More than $1.2 billion in tax breaks, free land, infrastructure assistance, low-cost financing and outright grants from state and local governments around the country.”

A May 2013 study by the House Democratic Staff of the Committee on Education and the Workforce found that single Wal-Mart Supercenter costs taxpayers $904,542 per year, and could cost taxpayers up to $1,744,590 per year in public assistance costs. As of July 2012, Wal-Mart had 4,253 stores. Wal-Mart’s refusal to pay their workers a living wage costs taxpayers millions of dollars a year.

Republicans defend what Wal-Mart is doing as the free market, but there is nothing free market about taking billions of dollars from taxpayers while forcing those same taxpayers to support their employees, because Wal-Mart will not pay adequate wages. That isn’t the free market. It is corporate welfare.

When Republicans oppose raising the minimum wage, they are supporting lining the pockets of the Walton family with your money.

It doesn’t matter if you shop at Wal-Mart or not. If there is a Wal-Mart in your community, the Waltons are benefiting from the taxes that you pay. It is an unjust manipulation of our economy, and one of the great hypocrisies that supposedly free market champion Republicans continue to support and encourage Wal-Mart’s corporate welfare, while starving the working poor….”

House Dems

House Dems

At it’s annual shareholder meeting, Walmart shelled out the big bucks for entertainers like Beyonce and Justin Timberlake.  That’s nice.  Too bad they can’t take that money and give its employees a living wage.  According to Barbara Collins, a striking Walmart employee, they are terrorized by the company.

“...Collins has worked for Walmart in Placerville, California for almost eight years, and is a full-time associate. “I was told when I first got hired that I had joined a family. A family that would give me the chance to provide, a family that would respect me and value my work. Unfortunately I soon discovered that was not the case,” she said. “Despite my hard work I soon discovered that Walmart was a place that liked to say one thing and do another.”

She said irregular hours left her unable to pay for healthcare for her family. One week she could work eight hours, the next 40. “Healthcare costs do not change, but my pay and hours do,” she said. She said the instability left her unable to keep up with her premiums. “We need public assistance to survive. Living in low-income housing, relying on food stamps, not being able to afford healthcare, is not my definition of providing a good job,” she said.

Two of her colleagues were fired recently – she believes for criticising pay and conditions. “Associates have the right to speak out without fear of retaliation and we will continue to do so until this company changes course,” she said…”

Huffington Post

Huffington Post

“…Per the report, the average employee costs the taxpayer $5,815 per year. This is averaged to approximately $420,750 per year for your typical 200-person Walmart store. According to the Walmart corporate website, the company has 4,043 stores across the United States. Which means that Walmart is costing everyone in the United States a total $1.77 billion per year. Which means, if you compare that to Walmart’s total worldwide gross profit of $15.7 billion, the United States is seriously subsidizing the giant store’s profits. The total economic loss from this, however, comes from the reduced velocity of money as employees have less to spend, to hundreds of thousands of lost manufacturing jobs, which if combined with the losses of total GDP due to the near exclusive sale of foreign built goods means that Walmart is costing trillions of dollars to the United States every year in tax revenue and economic growth. While we could spend months discussing the issue of trade, of more pressing concern is the cost of lower wages….”

Naked Capitalism

Naked Capitalism

“...Walmart doesn’t really pay its workers well enough so that they can afford to go spend more aggressively. And demographically speaking, many of Walmart’s shoppers look a lot like its associates – i.e. the working poor. Meanwhile, the company’s policies have a ripple effect. Walmart accounts for about 1.23 percent of all private sector jobs in the U.S., and about 9.3 percent of all retail and trade service workers in the country. In many areas, Walmart is a very significant employer. Thanks to its size, Walmart often sets the standard for retail and service wages in the areas in which it operates. Walmart’s wages are a benchmark off of which other employers set their own wages….”

Daily Kos

Daily Kos

Anyone who knows anything about retail knows there is a moment where a tipping point has been reached, where it is the beginning of the end.  Part of the problem is internal.  Part of it is external.  Much of the problem is in the way ‘corporate’ looks a things.  There is a moment in the life of a retail organization where something happens within the hierarchy of that organization.  They are no longer capable of viewing the world through some sort of reality.  They are capable of seeing only their specific agenda, and not realizing that time is passing them by, either via reality, sociology, technology, or being out of touch with reality.  Walmart is rapidly reaching this point, if it has not already crossed the line.

The Daily Beast

The Daily Beast

 “...The plan would ditch government inspections, which are infrequent and easily subverted by corruption, and establish an independent inspectorate to oversee all factories in Bangladesh, with powers to shut down unsafe facilities as part of a legally binding contract signed by suppliers, customers and unions. The inspections would be funded by contributions from the companies of up to $500,000 per year.

The proposal was presented at a 2011 meeting in Dhaka attended by more than a dozen of the world’s largest clothing brands and retailers — including Wal-Mart, Gap and Swedish clothing giant H&M — but was rejected by the companies because it would be legally binding and costly.

At the time, Wal-Mart’s representative told the meeting it was “not financially feasible … to make such investments,” according to minutes of the meeting obtained by The Associated Press. After last year’s Tazreen blaze, Bangladeshi union president Amin said he and international labor activists renewed a push for the independent inspectorate plan, but none of the factories or big brands would agree. This week, none of the large clothing brands or retailers would comment about the proposal….”

Major corporations are now looking at ways to cut worker’s hours to avoid paying health care.  Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?

National Memo

National Memo

 “…Walmart’s right: When you’re talking about a company with 4,005 stores in the United States, complaints from more than 1,000 customers are anecdotal. But they’re stories about the state of Walmart stores as much as they are about individual customer experiences. It’s not that these people are reporting things that happened to them alone, like one Walmart worker being rude to them or a gallon of milk having turned. They’re reporting collective experiences—standing in line with 10 other people, shelves bare for everyone to see. And there are hard numbers that make these stories make sense: Walmart has cut its workforce by tens of thousands since 2008 while adding hundreds of stores. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that customers are seeing evidence the store’s workers are stretched thin….”

National Memo

National Memo

“...Wal-Mart Stores Inc is considering a radical plan to have store customers deliver packages to online buyers, a new twist on speedier delivery services that the company hopes will enable it to better compete with Amazon.com Inc. […] Wal-Mart has millions of customers visiting its stores each week. Some of these shoppers could tell the retailer where they live and sign up to drop off packages for online customers who live on their route back home, Anderson explained.

Wal-Mart would offer a discount on the customers’ shopping bill, effectively covering the cost of their gas in return for the delivery of packages, he added.

Paying for the delivery people’s gas but not time—a novelist couldn’t write a better next move for Walmart. There will be significant regulatory and legal challenges to the idea if Walmart moves forward with it, of course. Because even setting aside the free labor issue, the plan would entail handing people consumer goods and a stranger’s address. What do you think is more likely?…”

Think Progress

Think Progress

The staffing situation has not changed, not in months.  Where I live, the employees are required to work in either heat or cold.  The store is neither heated nor air conditioned.  I verified this, by speaking to numerous individuals who were quite pleased with the fact that someone was speaking out for them.  They are so afraid of losing their jobs, that they cannot speak up to demand better conditions.

This alone, is a violation of their rights as workers.  If you live where I do, there aren’t that many jobs.  The local Wallyworld is one of the largest employers.  Having worked in my church office for several years, I know for a fact that the individuals who need the most assistance, are not the homeless nor unemployed in the area, but the people who work, regularly for Walmart.  I’ve seen it.  I’ve also seen how these people are treated so badly.

The series continues tomorrow.

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