Wal-Mart was the world’s largest retailer, with 220 billion dollars in sales and the nation’s largest private employer, with 3,372 stores, more than 1 million hourly workers, and accounted for 2 percent of America’s domestic product. (Olsson) Just like many other large companies, Wal-Mart has its’ light and dark side. The company receives much criticism from Karen Olsson’s article “Up Against Wal-Mart” on the way they handle their employees and their methods of success around the world. Things such as suppression of wages, overtime without pay, union busters, and bad health care.
However, in its own defense, Wal-Mart believes that they are like every other company and simply trying to be successful. Though their methods may seem harsh, Wal-Mart believes what they are doing is necessary. In other words, they are a “necessary evil”. They may feel this way, but I agree with Olsson and the employees that try to expose Wal-Mart for their monopoly type ways. In Sebastian Mallaby’s article, he states that a leading critic against Wal-Mart calculated a 4. 7 billion dollar annual loss of wages for workers. (Par. ) In his counter argument, mallaby tries to say that the suppression of wages could go either way. Depending on where Wal-Mart opened a store the need for jobs could be high or low. Like in Glendale, Arizona, Wal-Mart acquired 8,000 applications for only 525 jobs. (Par. 4) So yes in some cases “the victims” in certain regions may be “better off”. (Par. 5)
In Karen Olsson’s article “Up Against Wal-Mart”, she refers to the daily life of a current female employee of Wal-Mart. Jennifer McLaughlin describes her work days and “fast paced” and “frenetic”. (Par. ) After three years of working, she only receives 16,000 dollars a year and is considered high-paid. She has no health insurance and relies on Medicaid for her son simply because of the fact she does not get paid enough and cannot afford it. (Olsson) Just like thousands of other employees, Jennifer McLaughlin has to struggle because of this “4. 7 billion dollar annual loss” Mallaby tries to defend. The employees may have cheaper food, but they do not make nearly enough money to sustain a steady home. Jennifer McLaughlin must constantly worry about having the money to pay for her sons Medicaid.
Even though many employees have lawyers that put up a good fight, Wal-Mart often tries to elude the evidence. Rather than taking accountability as “Wal-Mart gives unpaid overtime and suppressed wages”, they blame it on individual department managers, stating that “such practices violate company policy”. (Olsson) However, an attorney for an employee of Wal-Mart said that the company “has a pattern throughout all stores of treating their workers the same way”. (Olsson) Not only that, but Wal-Mart employees play a substantial part in the revenue of Wal-Mart.
For example, when Mallaby mentions the variety of criticism Wal-Mart gets, he talks about a “critical documentary movie”. I myself have seen it. In this movie, critics and employees state how Wal-Mart destroys “Mom and Pop” stores and is literally the only store available for items citizens may need. Ironically, employees like McLaughlin work all day and night for less than minimum wage and work overtime with no pay, then at the end of the week get paid just to turn around and spend their money back at Wal-Mart because there is nowhere else for them to buy groceries or other necessities.
This is why I believe Mallaby is wrong for trying to defend Wal-Mart and say that the company is doing what any other company would do. Wal-Mart has taken their level of morality to an extremely low level. Stated perfectly in her article, Olsson quotes a man saying, “Americans can’t live on a Wal-Mart paycheck”. (Olsson) In response to all these so called “necessary” strategies from Wal-Mart, employees have tried to rebel and fight for their rights. The most logical way was to create unions around all of the branches in the United States so that employees could be given a fair and livable income along with better benefits.
But, unions were not acceptable to Wal-Mart and Mallaby couldn’t have said it any better and the end of his article when he says “Companies like Wal-Mart are not run by saints”. (Par. 8) Mallaby also tries to diffuse the situation by saying that Wal-Mart “is the center of the globalized, technology-driven economy”, as if everything they have done is okay. Unfortunately it is not. Not all of Wal-Mart’s actions have been right, especially when it came to employees attempting to form unions. In Olsson’s article she mentions how Wal-Mart handles any sign of union. In February 2000, the meat-cutting department at a Wal-Mart in Jacksonville, Texas, voted to join the UFCW — the only Wal-Mart in the nation where workers successfully organized a union.
Two weeks after the vote, the company announced it was eliminating its meat-cutting departments in all of its stores nationwide. It also fired four workers who voted for the union”. (Olsson) As you can see here, Wal-Mart shows absolutely no tolerance for unions. After a few years of creating Wal-Mart, Sam Walton was only paying his employees 50 to 60 cents an hour up ntil about 1970. (Olsson) Around that same time, some of his employees were organizing to join a union for getting paid so low below minimum wage. He took action by hiring a union buster named John Tate. (Olsson) His job was to lecture the employees on why unions were a bad thing and instead of going to a union; he encouraged them to talk to their managers. Since the beginning of this company, they have tried to keep all of their employees in control and even still today, Wal-Mart has done a superb job of doing so by giving their employees no voice whatsoever.
If Wal-Mart is the world’s largest retailer, with 220 billion dollars in sales and the nation’s largest private employer, with 3,372 stores, more than 1 million hourly workers, and accounted for 2 percent of America’s domestic product as Olsson claims, why can’t the company simply take care of their employees? I believe Wal-Mart is taking a negative toll on America but has the potential to be little bit more unselfish with their employees, considering the vast amount of money it has. In this situation the rich truly stay rich and the poor stay poor.
Courtney from Study Moose
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