Wal-Mart workers prepare to strike
The company faces uncomfortable questions about how it treats employees ahead of the important holiday season.
It is under pressure from Wall Street to improve its lackluster sales ahead of the important holiday season. Wal-Mart, the country's largest private-sector employer, has battled efforts by unions to organize its workforce for years, and has filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board to stop the labor action aided by the United Food and Commercial Workers International. Media reports say that a decision by the NLRB isn't expected before Thursday's Thanksgiving holiday. Union-backed OUR Walmart, has fired back at the company, accusing it of "illegally attempting to deter workers from participating in strikes against the world's largest retailer on Friday," according to Reuters.
But even if it wins the latest battle, the Bentonville, Ark., company may lose the war over the long term as tries to protect its brand.
The company brags about its low prices. But many shoppers probably don't think much about how Wal-Mart makes this slogan a reality, which may start happening given the publicity the strike is getting. The average Wal-Mart associate earns about $8.81 an hour, or a yearly wage of about $15,500, meaning that hundreds of thousands of the company's workers live below the poverty line, according to unions.
Our Walmart is seeking wages of $13 per hour, and is calling on the company to make full-time jobs available for employees who want them. The company disputes these characterizations and says on its website that it offers "competitive wages, good benefits and the chance to grow and build a career."
States worried about the growing costs of Medicaid have pressued Wal-Mart for years to improve worker benefits. In response, the company offered some benefits to those working less than 24 hours per week, only to reverse course last year and decree that new part-time employees would no longer get benefits and that people working 24 hours to 33 hours a week can no longer include their spouses in their coverage, though children are allowed.
Data from unions indicates that Wal-Mart employees are the largest recipients of government assistance among those that are employed in a huge number of states. That means that taxpayers are on the hook for these benefits to the tune of more than $1 billion.
Though it's unlikely the strike will put a dent in Wal-Mart's profits, some customers may start to wonder whether the company's low prices are worth the costs born by its employees.
--Jonathan Berr does not own shares of the listed stocks. Story is updated to provide details on the possible timing of a strike. Follow him on Twitter @jdberr.
More from Top Stocks
Wal Mart has a choke hold on small town america. It is a disgrace. I remember not long ago when my hometown had clothing stores, hardware stores, electronic stores, etc. The prices were higher sure, but the stores paid an honest wage and took care of their people. People worked harder as a result. The communitiy as a whole was stronger as a result. Don't let the "low price" BS fool you. For all their low priced items, they have other items that are priced at or above local store prices, especially groceries. If you have a chance, read the book "The Wal Mart Effect".
Any business that takes local community profits and removes them from the state, while having wages so low that many States have to augment them with tax-funded healthcare help is a blight on our society!
The Walton family, who inherited the wealth, has shown no fealty to America as it provides millions of jobs......... in slave labor China, that allow them to hide the profits in Bermuda and the Cayman Islands in LLC's set up to dodge American taxes!
These Walton siblings (greedmisers) refuse to allow a union to negotiate better wages for their workers, while WalMart makes 40 per cent of all of the wealth in the United States today!
For the Walton Family, who have billions of dollars, to have slaves making less that 25 cents an hour, making products for 18 cents of labor, while selling them to our consumers for 12 to 15 dollars, leads any sane person to wonder why the Waltons are so against meeting the requests of the unions for better pay, better healthcare, and better retirement plans! How much profit is enough?
Our response, in the general public, should be to support the workers and shun shopping at Wal-Mart until they begin to manufacture products in the United States again, while we can only hope that our government ban legislate continued efforts to reign in the trade deficit by leveling the playing field for our manufacturers and stop the product dumping by WalMart!
Wow ! They chose the brightest crayons in the box to speak for walmart. With as many people that are out of work in this country these guys are TOTAL A$$E$.
The amount that a $8 an hour employee makes in one week exceeds the anual income of 98% of the worlds population.
Thank God our soldiers,Sailors,and Airmen don't "strike" because they work under horrible conditions ,on holidays,weekends,in crappy weather. Oh and by the way walmart employees don't have people trying to kill them on the most part.
Get off your FAT,LAZY, A$$E$. If you don't like where you work...quit,find another job.
Not many? What a surprise.
As a former vendor for Walmart, I can tell you they treat their workers like garbage. I saw people who cared a lot more than their managers and yet got told they were bad employees and denied raises or hours every evaluation period. These aren't jobs folks, they're corporate slave positions.Those workers can't afford to live, and WE subsidize the cost to the tune of $1B a year.
Don't even get me started on the things they did to me as supplier, which caused my company to lay off workers.
I find it ironic that the right-wing types here have no problem with this. I thought welfare was a bad thing? I guess it's ok if it's welfare to support the richest family in the world's business.
Shop on morons and keep helping to destroy the country you claim to love so much.
Take a look at the twinkie workers and ask them how listening to the thug union helped them out of a job. Or take a look at the hundreds of thousands of auto workers who will never get their jobs back. And the list goes on and on.
Unions only destroy companies and jobs by protecting the lazy and promoting inefficient business practices in their contracts. The only place left for unions is in government. There they can't drive government into bankruptcy. Government just raises taxes to pay for it. But their day of reckoning is fast approaching.
MORE ON MSN MONEY
Copyright © 2013 Microsoft. All rights reserved.
Quotes are real-time for NASDAQ, NYSE and AMEX. See delay times for other exchanges.
In the never-ending contest for sales, American carmakers are pulling ahead.
VIDEO ON MSN MONEY
Top Stocks provides analysis about the most noteworthy stocks in the market each day, combining some of the best content from around the MSN Money site and the rest of the Web.
Contributors include professional investors and journalists affiliated with MSN Money.
Follow us on Twitter @topstocksmsn.