Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Wal*Mart At It Again

Wal*Mart may not be the worst corporation in America – as Disney, the big banks, Monsanto and a few others compete wholeheartedly with them for that coveted title – but they probably treat their employees worse than anywhere else. Ironically, the largest private employer in America, with approximately 1.3 workers in America and 2.2 worldwide (USA Today), is also one of its most brutal. They have been known in the past for paying immigrants below minimum wage, locking them in the store overnight, intimidating and firing workers who have tried to unionize, giving employees too few hours to live on and providing information on how to gain public assistance to supplement their meager wages. Most of their goods are imported from China, where they push their suppliers to lower prices dramatically, indirectly making the working conditions and wages of those workers even worse. They are also famous for destroying local businesses, as they come into a new area, undercut prices, close all the local retail stores and then force many into working at their low wages. And it is not like the company is hurting financially. In the fiscal period ending June 30, 2014, they secured $128.08 billion in gross profits and had total sales almost 50% larger than their next five competitors combined (WikiInvest).

The latest from the company “that clearly doesn’t care” is that they are eliminating healthcare for their part-time employees (Daily Kos). Their original estimates of the cost pegged it at about $333 million, but it has come in closer to $500 million and so they are leaving these workers to Medicare, Medicaid or the whims of the Obamacare market, which doesn’t even exist in the states that opted out. The reality is that Americans are paying for Wal*Marts policies, as our tax dollars go to public assistance for their workers (welfare, healthcare, etc.), keeping their profits high and their workers poor. Maybe it is time for the country to start spending a few more dollars shopping elsewhere and challenge this corporate behemoth that appears to make the lives of workers across the globe miserable?

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