Wal-Mart workers prepare to strike

The company faces uncomfortable questions about how it treats employees ahead of the important holiday season.

By Jonathan Berr Nov 21, 2012 12:32PM
The planned strike this week by workers at Wal-Mart (WMT) couldn't come at a worse time for the world's largest retailer.

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. Wal-Mart store in Secaucus, New Jersey / Jin Lee/Bloomberg via Getty Images

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.


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Tags: WMT
635Comments
Nov 21, 2012 3:03PM
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GENESIS

 

WOW YOUR ARE DUMB.

 

You just listed a number of profitable companies who employee many Americans. Ya, boycott them, that sovles everything.

 

 

Nov 21, 2012 3:03PM
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Wal-Mart is a 24hour store (in most cases)  who have to work any other Thursday,but why complain? In this economy you should be happy and fortunate to have a job even if it is 8bucks an hour. But I want to stress this.......... OUR SOLIDERS are working Thanksgiving, Blackfriday, Christmas and any other Holiday; they are NOT with their Families, How about their rights? Who defends their rights to go against their employer, NOT the Complaining Wal-Mart employee who gets to go home every day and spend some kind of time with their family. I think Wal-Mart employees that are going to do this have LOST ALL perspective. Just my view.

Nov 21, 2012 3:02PM
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Well, that will be a good way to get prices raised across the board.  We will all pay for the higher wages.  And Walmart isn't usually seen as a career choice so it doesn't necessarily have to compete as one.  It is great as a second income, but most of the people that have ever worked there didn't plan on retiring from there.  And what about Kmart, Rite Aid, Walgreens?  Has anybody compared them to walmart standards or is this just another envious jab at Walmart's success? 
Nov 21, 2012 3:01PM
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"There is a reason non-union companies do better than companies with unions."

 

It's the same reason companies with non-union labor don't do as well as companies with slave labor.

Nov 21, 2012 3:00PM
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You people that support the union are just crazy.Look at where unions have got Greece, France, England, and Spain to. My wife and some of her family work at WalMart, and they are paid a lot more then $8.00 and hour. There are part time people that have been with WalMart for 20+ years, and are making a lot more then the unoion would demand for them, plus they do get benefits, and good ones. They have a 401k, stock purchase, medical insurance; better then any union medical plan I've ever seen; and life insurance. Sure they may have to work a few holidays, but so do Sears, K-Mart, Target, Walgreens, CVS, and most grocery store employees. These tactics to get regular shoppers to stop buying at WalMart, by the unions, is just a bunch of lies, to expand the union base and give their leaders more mony to steal from the union coffers, back to the days of Jimmy Hoffa.

Also as far as selling only things from China, how many places can you buy a Vizio TV except at Wal-Mart? This is the only American made brand of tv, but try and find it at Best Buy, or K-Mart, or Target. They all have China made tv's. If more products were made in the US that were not ruined by the union's exorbanant wages, there would be many more American made products on Wal-Mart's shelves. The union just destroyed a 100 year old company, Interstae Baking. For that 19000 people will be unemployed, and Twinkies will be made in Mexico. I don't see any people on thsi site complining about the stupity of being unemployed, as opposed to taking a small pay cut. That is how unions work, and if the government in this country keeps forcing people to join unions, weather they want to or not, we will find NOTHING at all made in thsi country. I am lucky to be old enough to outlive that day, but I feel sorrow for my children and grandchilden, when that happens.

Nov 21, 2012 3:00PM
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The collective heirs to the Sam Walton enterprise that is now called: Wal-Mart have more assets than 130,000,000 Americans. There is massive unemployment in America (tracked and no longer tracked), widespread financial control, manipulation and ruin. It only makes sense that there be a national observance of the strike and negotiations. We don't need any more unemployed families or outrageously rich inheritors. If there is no accord-- SHUT IT DOWN FOR GOOD.

Let's get America back on it's feet. Close the banks, end the Federal Reserve and get RID of Wall Street. Invest in your neighborhood, not China or bad platform businesses that compromised the integrity of America for wealth. WHERE DO YOU GO ONCE YOU'VE SCREWED THE WHOLE WORLD?

Nov 21, 2012 2:59PM
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Maybe all the workers, in all of the stores, who must sell Chinese Slave Labor Products, while cheating the workers of America out of living wages, should get sick on Black Friday as a mark of solidarity with the plight of the American Worker!

Maybe Americans should buy local, from local nurseries, from hand-crafted local stores, from American Made steel and wood products and toys.

 

If we gather together, just like we did during the election, Americans can do everything!

Nov 21, 2012 2:59PM
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Wasteful work rules. Strikes. A hate-the-boss mentality.
These are the effects of forced unionism that destroy private-sector jobs -- and all were weapons used by union militants against Hostess and now against Wall-Mart. I work for a living, Union workers only exist...they don't work...the only thing they can do is to criticize the boss.

Read this: Unions killed the auto industry...Obama bailed them out. Unions killed Twinky...Obama will not bailed them out. Unions will kill Wall-Mart...Obama will not bail them out...WHY????

JUST BECAUSE OBAMA HATES BUSINESS PEOPLE.

Nov 21, 2012 2:58PM
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"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."

 

Quoted from article.  I actually dont have a problem knowing that my tax dollars subsize walmart employees becuase the way i see it, that means that some of my tax dollars are actually being earned vs just handed out lazy americans that refuse to get a job because the government handouts are better than working.  In fact i wish it could be mandated that this was a requirement for getting assistance that you had to have at least a part time job with so many hours. 

Nov 21, 2012 2:58PM
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To all you libs and union pukes, DON'T SHOP THERE, DON'T WORK THERE, DON'T SUPPORT WALMART!

 

Walmart will still be around, the good part YOU WON'T BE.

 

 

Nov 21, 2012 2:57PM
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If you think that getting rid of unions will drop prices, increase productivity, and bring jobs back to this country, you're stoned. Tax breaks by conservatives are too lucrative to pass up when you manufacture outside the U.S., and every dime the company saves will go in their pocket before it goes back to the worker that makes the money for the company. While its workers continue to be subsidized by the TAX payer. Greed at its finest. Standards of living, benefits you so enjoy, and labor laws that allow you to enjoy more free time in your life while keeping your job wasn't freely given to you by the "entrepreneurs" of this country. It was provided to you by the sweat off the back of the American worker, via the "Union"
Nov 21, 2012 2:57PM
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I am a bit flabbergasted that people who have jobs are complaining.  I suggest hat workers who feel taken advantage of quit immediately and let those who are unemployed have those jobs.

 

You folks who think that WalMart is taking advantage of their workers and think that their employees should "put it to them" in a time that is critical, why don't you express your frustration by pledging here today to pay more money for the same thing at any store besides WalMart. 

 

The truth is WalMart allows many folks have better meals, more new school clothes, and a better Christmas by providing lower prices.  I wonder if any of you putting this company down has taken the time to think about the future of our economic system.  I have a feeling that all of us are going to be looking for the best possible price on all of our purchases.

 

I think you better get used to the idea of working just under what would be considered full time; our new national health care system will make that the norm.

 

I am wondering why you aren't ticked off at hospitals, policemen, firemen, movie theaters, gas stations because I think those folks deserve a national holiday off also.  Businesses and services are open and meeting the needs and wants of the consumer.

 

 

Nov 21, 2012 2:54PM
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WalMart is a substantial player in the race to the bottom, and the legion of "be grateful for what you can get, you losers" posters on this thread are enthusiastic participants.
Nov 21, 2012 2:54PM
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I have always hated Wal-Mart because the stupid, yes let me say stupid, Americans buy their Chinese junk.  I hope everybody at Wal-Mart strikes and I hope everyone else is smart enough not to go to work for them or shop there.  Wal-Mart has single handedly ruined retail in our great country.  If Barry had any balls whatsoever he'd slap a 75% sur-tax on everything they import.  Talk about taxing the rich more.  Let's see Wal-Mart get their balls busted.
Nov 21, 2012 2:53PM
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ed

 

Sounds like you are the typical union worker or supporter. (Not very bright)

 

There is a reason non-union companies do better than companies with unions.

Nov 21, 2012 2:53PM
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How about this....

If you don't like Walmart, shop elsewhere...   I love Walmart.  I will continue to shop there, as long as they are non-union.

Walmart lots are always full, they provide great VALUE for their customers.  They sell more made in the USA products than ANY OTHER RETAILER.  Hell their stores have a higher made in the USA percentage than a GM car does...
Nov 21, 2012 2:53PM
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It's all a sham and total greed by big corporations. Their worse then the terrorists because like the terrorists, they hide there wealth amongst the middle class for their own cause(like it's ours also). They "train the public". Gladly take your money, but don't want to pay taxes, health care, decent wages, just want the money and tell you "That's business". We don't have to stand for that. Americans have a very short memory and will follow anything the news reports about the economy(sponsored by big corporations). In 2008 the CEO's had a private meeting with exiting Pres. Bush and following held on to 4 trillion dollars saying they were too apprehensive to invest(still use that excuse today). Had they put that back into the economy at a time when we MOST needed it, economy would have seeded that money and would have pulled out(still can). It's always been a world market, the business model hasn't changed in 50 years, make a BETTER product and you win. But the companies found a lazy and GREEDY way out by dropping the morals of their fathers and investing their time and effort that would have in the past made a better product and better life for all of us, into financing lobbyists and lawyers to get out of paying ANYTHING (and saying it's all our problem if they have to pay anything). Meanwhile, putting the word out there that THEIR problems are YOUR problems. "This ain't Sam Walton's" Wal-Mart. Too bad, he had pride and knew how to "work" it for all of us. BOYCOTT.
Nov 21, 2012 2:53PM
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Maybe we should boycott Wal-Mart because of their labor practices, as well as all the Bain Capital stores, who employee workers....in slave labor Communist China, instead of America!

Here's a list of some Bains to boycott, too:

Staples

BestBuy

Guitar Centers

Lowe's Home Improvement Center

Sealy Matresses

Toys-R-Us

Sports Authority

Burlington Coat Factory

Nov 21, 2012 2:53PM
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I don't mind working for low wages or part time cuz Im on SS monthly but will soon change to full time next year. Then no more SS for me. No matter what wages. Just enjoy it while it lasts. I bet that Walmarts will closed like other Hostess because Unions is Death Cobras.. While idiots(unions) will realized someday there will be no jobs in USA anymore. That why I called Unions " Death Cobra(s)"..
Nov 21, 2012 2:52PM
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I think every red blood American that is in a UNION should help these workers out on a strike the Teamsters,IBEW, IRON workers, Labors, Pipe Fitters, and all in the Great USA to prove that it was us that made your work place and safe place to work, gave you the 5/8 work day instead you working until you are a danger towards your co-worker, folks you don't believe in the UNIONs you are an uneducated individual that needs to grow up and look at Homestead PA , Luglow CO and the WV coal miners because you all disagree on Unions you will go back to the past where the companies can force you to work you longer and harder but I forgot the FREAKS of OBAMA is already destroying the Right to Bare Arms what else just some stupid people out there believe everything the queer lover spoke before his re-election....need to read the Bible who par-takes of this man will not be in the Kingdom of Heaven - point blank you agree with his doctrine you will be out of the Book of Life --oh I far got you all would believe in the Devil before the Lord --there is more works of the Lord coming to America and its not good blessing either -- read the Bible you will see the truth if you can accept it
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