Saturday, February 24, 2007

The Wal-Mart Effect (1)

"Wal-Mart has recently taken to explaining that retail jobs like those it offers, although paying double the minimum wage, are nonetheless intended as supplemental income, not as support for a family. The problem with that is that for two thirds of Americans, Wal-Mart is the single largest employer in the state where they live." (pg 15)

"From one side of the country to the other, there are dozens of lawsuits alleging that store managers routinely forced hourly employess to punch out at the time clock, then return to work, putting in hours of unpaid labor. Wal-Mart recently settled a federal investigation of its use if hundreds of illegal aliens to clean its stores, making a record-setting payment to the federal government. The company faces the largest class action lawsuit in history: the sex discrimination suit on behalf of 1.6 million current and former female employees that alleges that Wal-Mart managers systematically underpaid women and denied them promotions. A front-page story in the New York Times in 2004 revealed Wal-Mart's routine practice of locking employees inside about 10 percent of its stores overnight, a practice the company altered even before the Times could publish the story." (pg 27) (note: this case is ongoing)

"Even if you assume that Wal-Mart and its competitors are hiring equally talented staff - which is not a safe assumption - the standard Wal-Mart headquarters staffer is working at least 15 percent more hours in a routine week, even if his or her competitors are logging fifty hours." (pg 30)

"Sam valued every penny" (pg 30)

"Sam was a workaholic" (pg 31)

"In August 2004, a union was certified at a Wal-Mart store in Quebec, and it was authorized to negotiate a labor contract with Wal-Mart on behalf of the store's 190 employees. Ten months later Wal-Mart closed the 130,000 square foot store in Jonquiere, laying off all the associates. In eleven years of doing business in Canada, where Wal-Mart is the largest retailer, the company had never permanently closed a store. A Wal-Mart spokesperson said simply that the union's contract demands would have required the store to add thrity new jobs - a 15 percent increase in payroll for a company that operates on a 3 percent profit margin." (pg 48)


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