I watched a Robert Greenwald documentary on Walmart last night. While I don't shop there and while I have heard and read much about this corporate giant's business practices, I learned some things, things that appalled me, so I thought to post them there.
Some little known facts about Walmart you may or may not know about:
For starters, here's what you can expect as a Walmart employee, or "associate" as they are referred to:
*To begin with, if you're a Walmart associate, your pay averages around $4,000 below the federal poverty level. While Walmart claims close to 75% of their workers are full-time, their definition of full-time is around 30 hours a week.
*Once hired, you will be expected to work any hour, any shift, including assigned days off. You're basically on call during all store hours. If this causes distress in your home, too bad. You don't show, you're fired.
*Don't be surprised if your Supervisor changes your time sheet. Walmart has a strict "no over time" policy. If you happened to work over-time, Supervisor's are guided to remove the hours to avoid the extra pay.
*If Walmart offers you health insurance, the premiums are usually too expensive for you, so therefore you do what Walmart stores all over the country tell you to do: apply for Medicaid. And hey, they'll have the forms and everything for you.
*If you're female, you can forget about getting into Management, regardless of all the promises you're given by your Supervisors upon hire.
*Walmart associates have cameras at their work stations and in employee break rooms. And if that weren't enough monitoring, Store Managers are told to watch out for employees who are found talking together, only to stop talking when the Manager approaches them. Some managers have been known to fire such employees, on the spot. Why? This little employee pow wow could signal some sort of behind the scenes plan for employees to, you know, actually work together to create a fair work environment and expose the lies they were all told upon hire.
Here's some of the financial stats behind the Walmart Empire:
*The earnings of CEO Lee Scott: $27,207,799.00 (2005 stats)
*The earnings of the avg. employee: $13,861.00
*The Walton family (the family behind Walmart) has assets exceding $100 billion. If they took just $10 billion of that, this would ensure every associate received health care and a living wage.
*The Walton family gave $2.4 million in campaign contributions in 2005 alone and yet they've given less than 1% of their income to charity.
*Walmart has what's called a Critical Need Fund, which is used by Walmart employees in times of emergencies. In 2004, employees donated over $5 million. The Waltons? $6,000.
*The Waltons received a federal tax cut of $91,500 per HOUR in the 2004 tax year.
*In order to avoid returning money back to the community in terms of sales tax revenue, Walmart has been known to close an existing store and build another one, sometimes just a couple of miles away, outside of the city limits. And think the abandoned store then gets reused? Think again. As of recent stats, there are now 26,699,678 square feet of EMPTY Walmarts across the country. That could house a lot of people, educate a lot of children stuck in portable classrooms, grow food inside with climate controlled greenhouses or tear down the store and grow food or hemp, use the land for wind turbines, etc. etc.
*And hey, if you're Walmart, the city will likely dish out a nice little subsidy in the hundreds of thousands once you construct a new store. Overall, cities pay over 1 billion in such subsidies. Kaching! Kaching! Think mom and pop stores receive such subsidies? Nope. Zero. Nada. None. Read on for more what happens after Walmart enters a new city.
What happens when Walmart moves into a new city?
*Former upper echelon employee said upon entering a new city, he and another wig big would go down streets and point to local small businesses and make comments such as "See that place? It will close up in 6 months. That place over there? A year." This happens in every city Walmart sets up shop. And their predictions, sadly, are very accurate. Sadly if you happen to have a working conscience.
Walmart's Environmental Record:
*In 2001, the EPA levies a fine against Walmart for $1 million in TX, OK and MASS for violations of the Clean Water Act.
*In 2004, the EPA fines them again for $3.1 million for similar violations in TX, CO, CA, DE, MICH, S.D., TN, UT and New Jersey.
*In 2005, Connecticutt EPA fines them $1.5 million for Clean Water Act violations in 22 of its stores.
Doing Business Overseas: Where Do Those Fine Products Come From?
*Walmart CEO Claims that China has "strict standards" of employment and sanitation. In reality...
*Walmart Factory workers in China often work 14-15 hour days, 7 days a week.
*Dorms are allocated for the workers and rent is deducted from their paychecks. However, even if you choose not to live in one of the provided dorms (which are cramped, confined spaces with beds no bigger than a cot), the rent is still deducted from your paycheck.
*The factories are hot and there are few fans.
*The meals provided to Factory Workers were described as "disgusting".
*The average pay for a Walmart Factory Worker in China is $3.00/day. There is no time off allowed.
*During inspections, Walmart Factory Workers are told to lie about how many days they work and most of them comply, due to fear or punishment and/or termination. In fact, if a Worker successfully lies, he/she is rewarded.
*$18 billion in products was imported from China in 2004.
Bangladesh and Honduras:
*Factory conditions very similar to those in China.
*Female factory workers in Bangladesh make clothes and work from 8am-10pm, 7 days a week. Their wage averages between $.13 - $.17/hour.
*The Cost for a factory worker to assemble your typical product: $.18, which is then sold for a retail price of $14.96.
What happens if an Inspector actually does his job and reports the truth of working conditions overseas?
*You face retaliation and you're fired.
Watching all of this, reading it, can be overwhelming. Walmart is obviously on a mission to monopolize the Retail Economy of our country and they're receiving plenty of financial incentive, support and help from our Government at every level. They seem unstoppable. However, you can stop a giant. Residents in local cities and towns have been banning together the past several years to stop Walmart from setting up shop. And they have been successful in hundreds of communities. With persistance and in numbers, this Empire can be put out to pasture.
Of course, all of this is merely a reflection of much larger problems: wages that have failed to keep up with the COL, the nightmare of NAFTA, the eroding of Unions, and basic survival needs such as food, housing and health care costs skyrocketing at ridiculous levels. For many people, shopping at Walmart isn't always about mere choice. It's about necessity. Why pay $52 for a toaster when you can buy it at Walmart for $45? For many families, that $7 is like $5,000 to the upper class. Sure, we can remove Walmart but what about the other stores? The Sam's Clubs. The Costco's. The Dollar Tree stores. They offer low prices on their products and import most of them from China and other countries, from factories that employ the same deplorable conditions as described above. Removing these stores is only half the battle. At the same time, we must bring back the mom and pop stores of years past, stores that offered full health insurance benefits, pensions and living wages. We must demand our removal from NAFTA. We must demand political figures who represent the people. We must STOP the complacency by voting for status quo puppetheads, simply because "there's no one else to choose from". Like hell there isn't! Look around and research. There are ALWAYS a huge variety of other people running. You can't just sit in your armchair and expect the MSM to inform you of who they are--because, well, they aren't going to do that.
I know, I know, lots of "yeah but's" and other words of scepticism. All duly noted and all understandable. However, as one of the business owners driven out of business by the invasion of Walmart said (paraphrasing), "If something isn't done soon, this nation is going to be ruined. At some point, there will be a revolution if monopolies like these aren't stopped." We can be complacent or we can be active. If small bands of people in select communities can hang in there and shout "NO" to Walmart and be successful in their efforts, we can do ANYTHING.