Sadly, with the way we do business here in America, it actually pays for Wal-Mart to keep on breaking labor laws and end up paying fines or settling lawsuits later on.
Walmart has agreed to pay $4.8 million to settle U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) charges that it misclassified employees working at vision centers in the retail giant’s stores. Walmart had labeled them managers exempt from the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), and refused to pay them overtime when they worked more than 40 hours in a week.
In addition to paying back overtime to 4,500 employees, Walmart must pay $463,815 in civil penalties for what the DOL called repeated FLSA violations.
To Wal-Mart and many other corporations, the millions of dollars paid in settlements are just factored in as the cost of doing business.
via Business Management Daily
Two thousand shrimp workers from Cambodia and Myanmar, who suffered human rights abuses and indentured servitude at the hands of department store giant Walmart, recently protested at a shrimp supplier in Thailand. This was yet another case highlighting the severe worker abuse perpetuated by the retail chain.
via Shrimp workers exploited and enslaved at Walmart warehouse » peoplesworld.
We’re starting to see a lot of stories about the abuse of warehouse workers coming to light. Whether it be Amazon.com or Wal-Mart there are some serious workplace violations going on.
Wade Rathke points us to some news that is really flying under the radar. There’s the possiblity that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton might be headed to India to push an agenda which favors Wal-Mart.
Dharmendra Kumar, India FDI Watch Campaign director, alerted me to the Clinton visit because of widespread speculation that her real purpose is not to welcome a woman into power, which is one spin, or make an anti-Communist Cold War point, which is another spin, but to get involved in hard bargaining that Prime Minister Singh has been incapable of doing to muscle up on Banjeree to drop her opposition to the modification proposals.
This is actually a classic role of foreign policy, sometimes even the military gets involved on behalf of business interests. I can only remember what Smedley Butler said he did on behalf of the United Fruit Company. Does having a Wal-Mart in India allow us to export goods there? Not really since most of the stuff sold in Wal-Mart is sourced from China and other Asian countries. The profits from an Indian venture would just end up in the hands of the Waltons and Wal-Mart’s other shareholders I’d imagine.
When a warehouse in Elwood, IL violated Wal-Mart’s own ethics policies and denied workers the wages they have earned; instead of bringing justice to the situation Wal-Mart fired all 65 employees and let their contractor off scott-free. This occurred after the warehouse workers sued the contractor for wage theft.
Determined not to take it lying down, workers showed up Feb. 17 to fight back at a newly opened Walmart Express store here. And they brought with them a host of supporters from the public, including community, business, and political leaders.
I’d love to see these guys show up at major Wal-Mart stores all throughout the country. This can’t be the only instance of injustice against warehouse workers in the country either.
Well we have a Scrooge of the Year in in Rob Walton of Wal-Mart so it’s only fitting that we get another end of the year labor item courtesy of the International Labor Rights Forum. They recently put out a list of the worst corporations to work for if you want to join a union (PDF). I believe they’ve compiled this list in previous years and some of the same companies often get listed year after year, mainly because they’ve never improved. The Scrooge’s in this year’s report are Dole, Hershey’s, Philippine Airlines and Wal-Mart (obviously).
The India Cabinet wants to enable businesses with 51-percent foreign direct investment to enter India’s retail sector–basically inviting in big box behemoths like Wal-Mart under the banner of efficiency and consumer choice. But many Indians aren’t buying it. This week, UNI Global Union reports that shops went on strike.
via Wal-Mart Circles Indian Markets, and Indians Push Back – Working In These Times.
These people know what’s up. All of their small businesses will be eradicated once a big box moves in.
I wish that more communities would actually explore the route that the residents of Saranac Lake did.
It took nearly five years — the recession added to the challenge — but the organizers reached their $500,000 goal last spring. By then, some 600 people had chipped in an average of $800 each. And so, on Oct. 29, as an early winter storm threatened the region, the Saranac Lake Community Store opened its doors to the public for the first time. By 9:30 in the morning, the store, in a former restaurant space on Main Street opposite the Hotel Saranac, was packed with shoppers, well-wishers and the curious.
I’ve read of a similar story in the book Big Box Swindle. There’s a store called the Merc which the Times article also cites.
“There was a great concern that Main Street would fail if we didn’t have a store to replace the Stage,” said Sharon Earhart, who was director of the Powell chamber of commerce at the time. Ms. Earhart and a few other residents raised more than $400,000 from local residents in three months by selling $500 shares, and opened the Merc.
Some people might be wondering why wouldn’t an area that could benefit from the development and jobs of a huge conglomerate want it there? I think this excerpt does a good job of explaining why.
As District residents, many of Ward 4 in particular, we are coming together to say “No!” to this; no to the the corporate takeover of our neighborhood, no to jobs that will be lost if Wal-Mart opens, no to the driving down of wages in other retail jobs that accompanies Wal-Mart, no to the closing of small businesses (current and future) due to Wal-Mart’s presence, no to the poverty wages that Wal-Mart pays their employees, no to the sweatshop wages that the workers that make many products for Wal-Mart stores are paid, no to the funding of conservative political candidates by Wal-Mart executives and PACs, some of whom oppose Statehood for the District, no to the tax burden that Wal-Mart adds by not paying its employees enough to afford the limited health care that it offers to some, no to the Wal-Mart’s discrimination against women, and on, and on, and on.
On and on indeed! People in New York City should also be wary of the superstore entering its borders. It would most certainly change the financial make up of whatever area it were to go into.
It is the height of hypocrisy for Wal-Mart to complain about collusion among its adversaries. The beast from Bentonville has never hesitated to use every trick at its disposal – including the funding of front groups – to advance its expansion efforts. Over the summer it succeeded in getting permission to build a second store in Chicago by using tactics such as creating fake community groups and hiring low-income people to pose as demonstrators supposedly eager to get a Wal-Mart job. The company also pretended to have seriously negotiated with unions on wage rates for the store.
via Wal-Mart Plays the Victim | Dirt Diggers Digest.
Could it be that the millions of dollars that the corporation has paid to the likes of Edelman and other PR groups hasn’t had the result they wanted?
Wal-Mart may feel that the likes of Safeway and Supervalu are violating some unspoken rule by supporting site fights, but it has broken every rule in the book itself in pursuit of endless expansion. But rather than defending those rivals, the most important thing is to be sure Wal-Mart does not exploit this issue to put shackles on community groups and unions, which are often the only forces working against the company’s quest to take over everything.
Furthermore, it’s a free market isn’t it (sarcasm)? If you can’t deal with your competitors going after you then well….
The drumbeat of “news” around Wal-Mart’s entry into Chicago’s retail market continued yesterday, as the local media continued to print Wal-Mart’s press release promising jobs city-wide and wages that start at 50 cents above the minimum wage. And Mayor Daley demanded answers from labor leaders in Chicago for their opposition to the mega-retailer’s urban expansion. “They’re up to the highest point that no other retailer pays at the beginning salary. And they don’t pay that in the suburban area. No other retailer has gone that far,” Daley said, before launching into a tirade that Fran Spielman noted hinted at playing the race card, as the mayor did four years ago when he vetoed the so-called big-box ordinance.
“Why is it only in the African-American and Hispanic [neighborhoods of Chicago] that you cannot build a Wal-Mart? We built one on the West Side and no one complains about it. Those people who work there don’t complain. Those ex-offenders don’t complain. … That’s sales tax for us [for] public transportation, schools and parks,” he said. “If it’s built in a suburb, there’s not one controversy. Not one controversy dealing with the development. And why is it now there’s a controversy? It’s in the African-American community. You ask me.”
via Daley’s Wal-Mart Drama Continues – Chicagoist.
Wal-Mart like most chain stores when they come into a neighborhood do more harm than good. Greg LeRoy has written all about this. Also, there is controversy when a Wal-Mart is built in suburbs all over America. People have stood up and fought back. There are people in Manhattan still fighting the entry of Wal-Mart into that borough. Lastly fifty cents above the minimum wage is not a living wage. Besides the sales tax revenue is Wal-Mart going to pay any other type of corporate taxes or is the city of Chicago giving them a break on those?