Walmart, An Evil Empire! Essay

1827 words - 8 pages

Is Wal-Mart an evil empire?
Wal-Mart is the largest retailer in the world, the biggest private-sector employer in North America, and one of the most dominant and influential corporations in the America. It has become one of America's most successful retail chains by offering everyday goods at low prices for working families, and despite all of its financial successes, the company can’t open a store without enduring -- and overcoming -- a flood of protest groups. These groups might defend the environment or local store owners, or they might defend the store’s future employees, since Wal-Mart’s reputation for unfair labor practices involves sexual discrimination, denying unionization and ...view middle of the document...

These extremely low wages just keep the women and children right on the poverty line, and leave them no way to get above it. In the U.S, Wal-Mart's impact on wages was first felt in rural towns in the South and Midwest where Wal-Mart got its start. Often, it became the biggest employer overnight, setting wage rates for all retailers, experts say. Now, its impact on retail employment has spread nationwide, contributing to slower wage growth throughout the sector. According to the United Commercial Food Worker union, Wal-Mart workers make an average of $3 per hour less than unionized supermarket workers. In recent years, Wal-Mart has doubled down on its strategy of suppressing wages and benefits to stay competitive ( Spencer). Moreover, many of Wal-Mart employees work part-time since the company defines “full-time” as twenty-eight hours per week allowing the corporation to pay for as few benefits as possible, and with the minimum wages they get, many—too many—are on food stamps and other government assistance. So, minimum wages and minimum benefits: that’s the way Wal-Mart stays ultra-competitive. (Quinn 42)
With over 2million employees worldwide, Wal-Mart has faced a torrent of lawsuits and issues with regards to the company's strong anti-union policies. Back in the day, Sam Walton said he wouldn’t be intimidated by unions, ever, under any circumstances(Ortega 79). And

today, not a single U.S. store is unionized. Wal-Mart's anti-union policies also extend beyond the United States. The documentary Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price, shows one successful unionization of a Wal-Mart store in Jonquiere, Quebec (Canada) in 2004, but Wal-Mart closed the store five months later because the company did not approve of the new "business plan" a union would require (Bianco). Wal-Mart states that it is not anti-union but, "pro-associate," arguing that its employees do not need to pay third parties to discuss problems with management as the company's open-door policy enables employees to lodge complaints and submit suggestions all the way up the corporate ladder and claims that their employees don’t want anything to do with the union. However, In 2000, meat cutters in Jacksonville, Texas voted to unionize and Wal-Mart subsequently eliminated in-house meat-cutting jobs in favor of prepackaged meats on the claims that it cut costs and was a preventive measure to lawsuits. In addition, managers are taught to profile individuals who appear to have abilities to organize unions or sympathize with the idea and to fire them.
The giant retailer's low prices for the customers often come with a high cost to the suppliers. Being the large customer to most of its vendors, Wal-Mart openly uses its bargaining power to bring merchandise prices down. For certain basic products, Wal-Mart "has a clear policy" that prices go down from year to year. This relentless pressure made vendors lay off their employees, close U.S factories, and shift manufacturing...

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