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.
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I Would LOVE to be able to not shop at Wal-Mart, but even though I work full time I cannot afford to shop anywhere else. I went to the store to get a bottle of McCormacks pumpkin pie spice, Wal-mart was out, so I had to go to Piggly Wiggly, The price at Wal-mart was $4.29, the price at Piggly Wiggly $5.39. Why should I pay more for the same item. I, like many other Americans, need to make my pay check stretch as far as I can and unfortunatly, Wal-mart makes it easier to do just that. I am not saying I agree with the business practices and not offering insurance, but SOMETHING needs to happen in thei country of ours so people are not so dependant on government handouts. How about we bring the cost of living down to a respectable amount so we can all afford to live and not have to keep raising wages. When wages go up, so does the cost of products. It is a vicious circle.
Really??? $13/hr? to stock a shelf / sweep a floor. A cashier maybe a little more than $8 since they are accountable for money, but still all they do is scan a bar code and if the machine stalls call a manager because they aren't trained to do anything but scan. As for the two people on the news they don't quit because they can't get another job. And if they did get a union they would have to pay union dues ie the extra money they got would go there
On anothere note I rarely shop at walmart because what I buy is no cheaper there than target or any retail or food store..
Quit demanding more tampering with business you greedy envious victim minded leeches.
So the truly CONSERVATIVE view on this should be for Wal-Mart to pay the workers enough so they can afford basic necessities. Why should tax payers have to support low wage workers because of a company's greed?
Go to work at Walmart (part-time), get food stamps, medicaid, free cell phone and service, and if we're lucky, relax and watch the SEC kick the s_h_i_t out of Notre Dame in Miami.
YEEEEE HAAAA !
STRIKE..........you will be Glad you did it....in the LONG run...! Unionize.....WalMart would do it.....Beleive THAT!
We as Customers just shop their for Convenience......I have always NOTICED how they work the **** out of their workers. Some of those folks bust their **** for no benefits and WalMart has made a million dollars off of them.
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For years, Todd Mills pushed Frito-Lay to make taco shells from Doritos. He died from a brain tumor on Thanksgiving.
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