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Karen Olsson’s Up Against Wal Mart: Advocacy For The People

1197 words - 5 pages

Karen Olsson’s Up Against Wal-Mart: Advocacy for the People
Karen Olsson the author of an essay called Up Against Wal-Mart where Olsson posits the employees of Wal-Mart are quite literally “up against Wal-Mart”. Olsson goes on further to provide authoritative evidence to Wal-Mart's questionable practices in regards to the treatment of its employees. More specifically Olsson goes on to point out the success that Wal-Mart has achieved; the questionable practices involved in preventing employees from unionizing; and lastly the quality of life of the underpaid and overworked employees of Wal-Mart.
According to Olsson Wal-Mart’s growth from a single retail store in 1962 to 3,372 stores as of ...view middle of the document...

This brings us to what Olsson calls Wal-Mart’s irrefutable attempt to keep stores from unionizing. When it comes to the topic of numbers, most of us will readily agree that they do not lie. Olsson states it best: “Its [Wal-Mart] annual revenues account for 2 percent of America’s entire domestic product” (608). She goes on further to report, “The average hourly worker Wal-Mart earns barely $18,000 a year at a company that pocketed 6.6 billion in profits last year” (608). The numbers are staggering, how can a company that nets 6.6 billion dish out a feeble $18,000 to its one million plus employees (608)? Olsson set out to answer this very question.
Olsson argues that Wal-Mart strove tirelessly in an attempt to keep its employees from unionizing. Countless accounts from employees and lawyers have all directed their attention to Wal-Mart's questionable approach in stopping a store from unionizing (609). To find this out, Olsson turns to a firsthand account from the very man that helped develop Wal-Mart's anti-union tactics Martin Levitt. Levitt describes Wal-Mart's stance best: “In my 35 years in labor relations, I’ve never seen a company that will go to the lengths . . . to avoid a union” (609). This coming from a man whose life work has been in the manufacturing of tactics to stop stores from unionizing. The one time that employees realized success in unionizing a store, was a meat-cutting department in Jacksonville (609). Two weeks later Wal-Mart cut its meat-cutting departments nationwide from all of its stores (609)!
The picture that Olsson has painted here is not pretty. Wal-Mart will do anything and everything, sometimes even illegally, to prevent its employees from unionizing (608). Wal-Mart's is notorious for indoctrinating employees with anti-union propaganda, and disciplining those who stray away from the company stance. It is easy to see why one can make only $18,000 per year as an employee with Wal-Mart. As Olsson has said before the company fears any change that might threaten the way of life of frugality. It could be better said as “. . . Wal-Mart has always relentlessly been on the bottom line and on cost cutting” (614-615). Wal-Mart's actions have always leaned towards that of frugality. They have always focused on the...

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