Bil Browning

Wonderful Wal-Mart?

Filed By Bil Browning | October 07, 2006 12:32 PM | comments

Filed in: Politics
Tags: employee benefits, health care reform, Walmart

You might remember a few weeks ago when Wal-Mart announced that it would be selling some generic medications for $4. (Prices so low even their employees can afford them!) Isn't our generous overlord wonderful?

But you might have missed some of Wal-Mart's subsequent announcements. Oh, that's right. They're not so wonderful and generous, are they? The company says that they're going to cut health care options for its employees, reduce the amount of full-time workers who can actually claim benefits, cut the elderly from the workforce since they cost more for health care by eliminating current elderly workers and not hiring more, and stop hiring disabled employees who require more health care. Quite a bit, eh?

Wal-Mart. Always exploiting employees to get low prices. Always.

Sally Wright, 67, an $11-an-hour greeter at the Wal-Mart in Ponca City, Okla., said she quit in August after 22 years with the company when managers pressed her to make herself available to work any time, day or night. She requested staying on the day shift, but her manager reduced her schedule from 32 hours a week to 8 and refused her pleas for more hours, she said.

"They were trying to get rid of me," Ms. Wright said. "I think it was to save on health insurance and on the wages."

Wal-Mart vigorously denies it is pushing out longtime or full-time employees and says its moves will ensure its competitiveness. The company says it gives employees three weeks' notice of their schedules and takes their preferences into account, but that description differs from those of many workers interviewed. Workers said that their preferences were often ignored and that they were often given only a few days' notice of scheduling changes.

These moves have been unfolding in the year since Wal-Mart's top human resources official sent the company's board a confidential memo stating, with evident concern, that experienced employees were paid considerably more than workers with just one year on the job, while being no more productive. The memo, disclosed by The New York Times in October 2005, also recommended hiring healthier workers and more part-time workers because they were less likely to enroll in Wal-Mart's health plan.


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Henry Ford's 1914 business model: "Fordism," the mass production of large numbers of inexpensive automobiles using the assembly line, coupled with high wages for his workers.

Wal-Mart's 2006 morphed model: 'Wal-Martism,' the mass marketing of large amounts of junk stuff, using the vendor bully process, coupled with low wages/no benefits for their workers.

I'm thinkin the low prices aren't so much about keeping prices low as they are about maximizing profits for Wall Street.

"I'm thinkin the low prices aren't so much about keeping prices low as they are about maximizing profits for Wall Street."

Amen, sister. They're not trying to make things easier on the average American. They're trying to make things better for the Wal-Mart stock holder.

Back at ya, bro ... sjab