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Friday, October 21, 2016

Walmart has never been shy about its desire to keep its employees from organizing.

“We don’t have unions in South Carolina,” Governor Nikki Haley bragged at a recent Walmart Summit, in an effort to sell the world’s largest company on the state.

But low wages for workers result in massive taxpayer subsidies for the company.

“After analyzing data released by Wisconsin’s Medicaid program, the Democratic staff of the U.S. House Committee on Education and the Workforce estimates that a single 300-person Walmart Supercenter store in Wisconsin likely costs taxpayers at least $904,542 per year and could cost taxpayers up to $1,744,590 per year – about $5,815 per employee,” a report found earlier this year.

Walmart associates who do attempt to unionize and demand better treatment have reported retaliation from the company. Some say they’ve been unfairly treated for just dabbling in organizing.

When activists tried to deliver petitions asking the company to stop retaliating to a Raleigh, North Carolina superstore on Thursday, the management was dismissive.

But it was impossible to ignore what the activists did next. It seems the conservative overreach in the Tar Heel State  is sparking a progressive resurgence.

Walmart Flash Mob

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Copyright 2013 The National Memo
  • idamag

    Just goes to show that if you kick a dog enough, he will bite.

  • dtgraham

    I have no idea how Walmart sells this crap to the general public. Walmart, for example, decided not to build 3 new stores after the passage of a DC council bill, which demands that big box retailers pay their workers a living wage of $12.50 per hour. Such a wage, Walmart claimed, would drive up it’s famously low prices. Although I didn’t really need to see the study, CUNY and the U. of Cal. found that increasing to $12.00 per hour would cost the average Walmart shopper about 46 cents per trip.

    I believe that, and here’s why I believe it. I live in Canada. I have shopped in the United States, both on vacation and business trips…frequently, and sometimes at Walmart. I do not see any significant difference in Walmart pricing between Canada and the the U.S. If I can get a large can of cat food for Marmalade at 98 cents in a Canadian Walmart, but can get away with 96 or 97 cents in an American Walmart… still my beating heart. That difference in price seems to be consistent across the board.

    Now keep in mind that the average minimum wage in Canada is about $10.25-$10.50 per hour (varies per Province), and the average Canadian Walmart worker makes between $11.00 and $12.00 per hour, and those Canadian Walmart workers also have premium free government universal health care combined with heavily subsidized government pharmaceutical coverage. Since Walmart has to pay extra corporate taxes for those things, then why are Walmarts opening like weeds in Canada continually? It seems like there are new Walmart openings in Canada being announced every week.

    Yet, they want to put out the claim that they just can’t expand into DC because of the new wage laws. B.S. Walmart is everywhere. They’ve expanded around the globe and have adapted to the different labour laws, norms, customs, and societal expectations of their corporation. All they’re looking for are new markets and a reasonable return on investment, given the international climate in which they do business.

    They claim they’ll leave if DC doesn’t give in. Really? Where will they go if not to a third world country (Texas doesn’t count). Will they go to Scandinavia, or the rest of Europe, or to Canada, or to some other higher wage area where they’re already profitably established and are paying even more to operate? They need to be called out on this.

    In the end, I’m a bottom line guy. If what they’re saying is true, then why aren’t Walmarts only opening in the American red States, or the developing world, or the third world? That certainly isn’t the case, but why isn’t it…given their rhetoric?

    • midway54

      As I recall, the McDonald aristocrats would have to charge another dime or so on its products to treat its poorly paid and struggling employees with some semblance of decency.

      • Independent1

        Actually, a study done by Elizabeth Warren showed that McDonald’s could afford to raise their employees minimum wage from $7.50 to $10.10 by adding 4 cents to the cost of ONE combo meal that cost $7.15. By raising that combo meal to $7.19 their outlets could afford to pay their help $10.10. So I question this 46 cent estimate. Given the thousands of products that Walmart sells to millions upon millions of people in the U.S. I doubt they would have to raise the price on an undetermined number of them by more than a penny; so I don’t see how they couldn’t afford the increased minimum wage for far less than 46 cents/customer. I haven’t walked into any Walmart’s in my vicinity recently that are staffed by thousands.

        • midway54

          “…so I don’t see how they couldn’t afford the increased minimum wage for far less than 46 cents/customer.”

          Nor do I, but that is the way it is these days. Destroy what few labor unions are left since the Taft-Hartley Act and the adverse findings in disputes before the labor boards and in federal courts on appeal, and bring back those good old days 1877-1937 embracing Gilded Age corporations v. labor unions seeking to organize in the face of violent reaction by employer “detective agencies (such as Pinkerton).” While it is true that when Labor was stronger after World War II federal legislation was enacted concerning work place conditions such as OSHA and discrimination practices benefiting employees, yet employer hostility to such safety net legislation is alive and well.

        • dtgraham

          You may be right. I said “that difference in price seems to be consistent across the board.” In retrospect I worded that poorly. What I really meant to say was that ANY difference in price seems to be consistent across the board with that cat food example. Many times there is no difference in price in the things that I’ve picked up anyway.

      • dtgraham

        You know midway, that comment- “we don’t have unions in South Carolina”- bugged me about as much as anything I’ve read on this website, being attributable to Republicans.

        One of the hallmarks of democracy, and a free society, is the ability of men and women to freely come together collectively and bargain as a unit with their employer. That’s a must for any democracy. I’m assuming that labour unions are not now literally illegal in South Carolina, so she must mean that they’ve put up so many barriers and obstacles that you’ll never form a labour union in a million years, so don’t even think about it.

        Labour unions have always been banned in Fascist and Communist regimes. Now I’m not making any accusations here. I’m just saying.

        Republicans like to talk endlessly about freedom. They take the concept to such absurd levels that the thought of having so many Americans without health insurance seems just fine to them. The freedom to not have it is more important than the insurance itself apparently. Ok, so what happened to the freedom to organize a labour union? What happened to that freedom? Any thoughts on picking and choosing freedoms Nikki?

        I used to wonder what freedoms Republicans could possibly believe in that Democrats don’t. I’ve been catching on to some of those special Republican freedoms over the years: i) the freedom to die because of no health insurance ii) the freedom to declare a medical bankruptcy iii) the freedom to work for less, and be treated like crap on the job, with no recourse but to quit. That’s just a partial list.

        The Democratic Party may not believe in those freedoms, but I wouldn’t hold it against them.

        • midway54

          “I used to wonder what freedoms Republicans could possibly believe in that Democrats don’t. I’ve been catching on to some of those special Republican freedoms over the years: i) the freedom to die because of no health insurance ii) the freedom to declare a medical bankruptcy iii) the freedom to work for less, and be treated like crap on the job, with no recourse but to quit. That’s just a partial list.”

          A fine, very well stated post. I have, on the posts here and in other fora, expressed my frustration and disbelief in the great numbers of those who endorse this rightwing propaganda that essentially is that the freedoms of this Country require that all citizens must fend for themselves irrespective of the circumstances and remain in solid contentment that this is the American Way…and we don’t need no stinkin’ welfarist socialism. Incredibly,because of its socio-economic situation,most of this misguided support resides in what I call Dupedom South where the citizens see themselves as true patriots in their rejection of those “librul anti-Americans and them labor bosses” and those “big gummint” programs. Having been saturated with this bilge, they rush off and vote for the rightwing political stooges whose mission is to see to the comforts and the agendas of the plutocrats.

          Unfortunately, the same kind of brain-washing has permeated the western mountain states and given birth nationally to the birth of the teabaggers and their Party serving as shills for and financed by those same plutocrats.

          • dtgraham

            Yes, I hear and read things from people on the political right that are just incomprehensible. Remarks that tend to stick with you.

            Some guy on the Fox Nation website named Patriot Eagle or something once summarized the case for labor unions having no useful function through his insightful analysis…”if you try your hardest, you don’t need a union.” Roll that one around a few times. Yeah. Why didn’t I think of that?

            Fox New’s Andrea Tantaros was recently commenting on the fast food worker walk outs. She said that…”if the economy were better, Mcdonalds would be paying a lot more.” Uh-huh. Yes, I remember those days back in the 90’s when the economy was so good. It was so common to see fast food workers pulling into work in their Lexus and getting out carrying a briefcase full of their stock portfolios. Aaah, those were the days. You do remember those days don’t you midway?

          • midway54

            Ah, yes. I especially admired their Brooks Brothers suits when they appeared at social functions.

  • tax payer

    To demand $12.00 an hour is like saying you can fire me and hire two ( at $7.25 an hour ) to replace me for $2.40 an hour more.

    • LotusJoan

      Thats why they are asking for an increase in the minimum wage. It would affect Wal Mart most because they are one of the major employers of low wage workers in this country.

  • howa4x

    The Walton family is worth 115 billion and I think they could afford to spend a little more on employee benefits without hurting themselves economically. Why should taxpayers subsidize Wal-Mart. If those of you out there oppose a living wage then support a public option for lower paid workers. Come on where are all you good Christians? Don’t you want your fellow Christians have some dignity? Don’t you want your fellow Christians to be able to feed their young children? Why is it that good Christians in this country always support those who have too much over those who have to little? It is the exact opposite of what your savior preached. He didn’t make bread for the rich, he did it for the poor. He created fish so the poor could eat. What have made you all so mean spirited and bitter?

  • Dominick Vila

    Low wages are the reason 47% of Americans don’t pay Federal income tax, which morons like Mitt Romney interpret as Americans being lazy or dependent on government handouts. Sadly, our problem is much larger than WalMart. Our economic system is designed to help the wealthy accumulate more wealth, it gives subsidies to those that don’t need them to prosper, it makes loopholes available to lessen the tax burden of our wealthiest compatriots, and if that is not bad enough it looks the other way when those who own 2/3 of our national wealth hide part of their fortune in foreign tax havens like the Cayman Island to avoid paying their fair share to Uncle Sam. All of this while keeping a close eye on waitresses, plumbers, roofers, and cooks to make sure they don’t cheat when they file their tax returns.

    • dtgraham

      Damn straight Dominick. I didn’t mean to give the impression that I’m somehow absolving Walmart just because they’re operating in other parts of the world in a different way, due to different circumstances. This corporation fights like animals to keep their employees from organizing, no matter where they are. They’re consistent that way. They seem obsessed with organized labour and will go to any extremes to stop it. Nothing appears to be beneath them in that way.

      Legislatively, they can be forced to become a little more humane but they don’t do it by choice…which supports your point. I have no respect for them and try to avoid them whenever possible.

      • Dominick Vila

        What bothers me the most is not the fact that most American corporations abuse their employees, but our indifference and the apparent complacency to what is going on. It is almost as if we have been brainwashed into accepting exploitation as part of our destiny, and that we should be thankful we have a job regardless of how miserable it may be.

  • stephen ramsden

    wow, most of this comments section is an embarrassment to me as an American. How on Earth can all you angry old geezers sit around and condemn American workers exercising their AMERICAN RIGHTS by asking to be legally represented by a Labor Union? You guys are the first ones whinning about your 2nd amendment rights or your freedom to be wacko evangelists but when it comes to these people’s rights to organize, its a different story.

    Paying someone a decent wage with benefits after they have established your frikkin company is not socialism, its called the American Dream!

    Wal Mart and any other employer gets exactly the Union they deserve.

  • Budjob

    My father was an organizer for the UMW in the 1930s.Twenty five years ago my Dad,me,and several neighbors were having a discussion concerning the worth of unions to our country and our economy.One individual suggested that unions have outlived their purpose and,my Dad jumped in his face and said,”don’t you ever say that again in my presence because,one of these days your going to wish the unions in this country had just a little more power than they do right now.”What a mess this ONCE GREAT country is in!!

    • midway54

      Indeed your dad was correct in his reaction. Rightwinger anti-labor propagandists and targeted employee dupes who cheer them and their gospel that maintains the drumbeat against labor unions through charging them as un-American organizations seeking to replace the American Way with socialism, as being ineffective entities with overcompensated “labor bosses” stuffing their pockets with union dues, and as having no legitimate purpose for their existence since many of the major objects of collective bargaining and disciplinary procedures have been embraced in federal and state legislation. Many dupes respond by voting against the union seeking to represent them or by voting to remove an extant union as their bargaining agent. Worse, many of those who are in a unionized work place

  • jointerjohn

    In my 46 years in the workforce I have witnessed the shift in workers’ attitudes that has made organizing a shop damn near impossible. In the 1960s very few would ever cross a picket line or scab in another man or woman’s job. It just wasn’t done, not only out of a sense of decency and fairness, the golden rule concept, but it was also a great way to avoid a skull fracture or the need to buy a new set of tires. Even those who didn’t believe in unions stood back. Today the workplace has become every man for himself, screw the other guy, only lookin out for old number one. Lifelong union members will now patronize a rat-shop just to save a lousy nickel. Until we get past our selfishness and stand together the bosses don’t need to hear our demands or treat workers fairly. There has been a Walmart Supercenter in my city for now sixteen years. They brought all the construction workers to build it from nearby low-wage anti-union states, didn’t employ a single local construction worker. I have never been in that store. You see, I vote with my wallet as well as the ballot. The only three justifications I can possibly think of for capital punishment would be rape, murder, and crossing a picket line.