Thursday, July 26, 2012

How Much Is The Lowest Price Guarantee Worth?

Despite years of repeated denials, I think there are few who doubt that Walmart is anti-union. Stories abound of the pressure the giant corporation applies anytime someone within the employee ranks tries to start a move toward union certification, including termination of the troublesome individuals and even store closures.

Because of these strongarm tactics, a group entitled Our Walmart is trying a different approach by pressing Walmart to accept a declaration of workers' rights which, in many ways sounds like a contract. Its worker groups hope to gain at least a measure of bargaining power by joining together to press the company for better wages and treatment.

However, even that has proven unacceptable to a Los Angeles store which recently fired five employees involved in organizing the workers to that end.

And of course, Walmart insists, as they always do, that the terminations had nothing to do with those activities.

Perhaps something to keep in mind in our incessant and often frantic consumer search for 'the lowest price in the land." It does come at a very real cost.

H/t Matthew Elliot

UPDATE: Apparently the anti-worker virus has spread north, this time infecting the Weston family, according to The Huffington Post.


  1. I'm no economist, but I get the feeling Wal-Mart's anti-union stance is in the end self-defeating in terms of stability.
    The profit margin must seem nice, but at some point, it's going to bite the communities that have accepted this sort of of behavior in the ass. In the long run, too, Wal-Mart's behavior will likely begin to injure itself, but by then, its owners will have made billions more, so what do they care?
    Whoops. Too late. There are dozens of wastleand communities around that have lamented allowing Wal-Mart's business model into their midst. There are probably hundreds or even thousands that are now finding Wal-Mart's model to be quite destructive.
    It's really no different from the Tar Sands business model. Let the company in to extract every bit of resource, and then it leaves without a single obligation to the lives it has ruined.
    I'm going to be honest here. I've found UFCW's attitude toward Wal-Mart to also be self-defeating. Its goals seem ultimately unattainable, so long as it continues on as a 'moderate' entity. There is no way UFCW will ever unionize Wal-Mart using its current tactics. But then, a union that has been so captured by its own industry will of course have only passing interest in unionizing its greatest enemy.
    In all honesty, a general strike is what is needed against Wal-Mart. And it would have to be in conjunction with industrial unions such as the Teamsters and Steelworkers, which are the unions that cover dockworkers and warehorse workers.
    UFCW would have to shut Wal-Mart down, and convince the owners business can't continue until it accepts a new reality. So long as UFCW keeps pussyfooting it around Wal-Mart, though, so can Wal-Mart ignore its own workers.

  2. Thanks for your well-considered comments, Troy. I suppose that another impediment to changing the Walmart status quo is the undeniable fact that it is so popular with the consumer. I remember seeing a documentary about a group of Canadians who spent the summer going to Walmart stores in various locales trying to convince customers of the long-term consequences of the store's model; while they were generally politely received, it was clear that they weren't winning any converts.

    It seems to be a sad and intractable fact of human nature that we consider things mainly in the short-term, with little regard to larger consequences. This, I think, is quite evident in others areas as well, our inaction over climate change coming immediately to mind.

  3. Hear hear, I'm often met with bewildered looks whenever I mention that I haven't set foot in a Walmart in years. But don't you like to save money they ask to which I reply I'd rather have a decent standard of living.