Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Wal-Mart sucks. A lot.

Yesterday I posted a snotty Facebook status update about Wal-Mart following the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that denied women the right to proceed with a sex discrimination suit against the company.

A decade ago, a group of female employees sued Wal-Mart, claiming the company paid them lower wages and awarded them fewer promotions than men even when they had higher performance ratings and more seniority than their male counterparts. By a 5-4 vote along ideological lines, the court said there were too many women in too many jobs at Wal-Mart to wrap into one lawsuit. The lawsuit could have involved up to 1.6 million women and Wal-Mart could have faced billions of dollars in damages.

Instead of receiving the type of concurring responses that I expected from my liberal Facebook friends, it was pointed out that the Supremes’ decision was based on a “narrow procedural point” which means, I assume, that my friends thought it was just.

I’m not an attorney but I don’t see how making it more difficult for women to come together as a group to claim discrimination by the world’s largest corporation is a good thing by any definition. (Isn’t this the same court that ruled in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission that corporations have the same rights as people?)

Another Facebook friend responded by asking, “What do you have against people who work at Wal-Mart?” My answer is: nothing. Wal-Mart employs one out of every 123 U.S. workers and nearly one out of every 20 retail employees and I feel sorry for each one of them. It’s the corporate monster, headquartered in Bentonville, Arkansas, that rubs me the wrong way:

  • Wal-Mart pays its employees next to nothing, forcing many to sign up for public assistance.

    • Wal-Mart enjoys taxpayer subsidies although its annual revenue exceeds $420 billion.

      • Wal-Mart violates environmental laws and promotes sprawl and farmland loss.

        • Wal-Mart squashes Mom and Pop stores and alters communities.

          • Wal-Mart actively fights employee unions and organizing efforts. The company's been mobilizing managers and supervisors around the country to warn that if Democrats win power in November, they'll likely change federal law to make it easier for workers to unionize.

            • Wal-Mart supports the Chinese economy. In fact, experts estimate that as many as 80 percent of Wal-Mart’s 6,000 global suppliers are based in China. The corporation itself estimates it imports $15 billion worth of Chinese goods every year and concedes that the figure could be higher; some estimates range as high as $30 billion.

            I’m not surprised that a company headquartered in the good ol’ USA pays its employees an average of just $250/week and buys mostly from Chinese suppliers. I am surprised that the highest court in the land sided with this company over American women – and that anyone thinks this is okay.

            P.S. For more information, watch “Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price,” a documentary that “uncovers a retail giant's assault on families and American values.”

            Sources: Huffington Post, moneyvsdebt.com, Crooks and Liars, USA Today, PBS.


            1. Walmart is so generous that they have let homeless employees sleep in their cars in the parking lot. Very giving of them.

              I've said this before, but every Walmart store needs to have a "Made in the USA" enclosure as a challenge to the patriots who shop there. It'd say, "Here's your chance to prove your patriotism by paying more to support the American economy." I really wonder how that might work out.

              I've written to Walmart asking them to do that. Maybe they have. I don't know because I'm lucky enough to live in a place were Walmarts are rare and even if there was one across the street I'd not shop there.

            2. I have never set foot in a Walmart parking lot, let alone one of their stores, and I really see no incentive to do so in the future. Nor does my wife, even though she is from Arkansas and has relatives that work in that company's management. Bushit happens, and it is still happening!

            3. Hey Patrick,

              My comment about having something against Wal Mart workers was to shame the politicians in your comment.

              I have watched The High Cost of Low Price. I was appalled at the treatment of the workers. Essentially making people who work for Wal Mart a 'working poor' class. How families sink their pay cheques right back into the store. There is no getting ahead in life with that mentality.

              Because of that documentary, I have tried to make a strong conscious decision to boycott Wal Mart as much as I possibly can. Keep in mind I'm a single mother raising two children. One who blows out shoes every other month!

              I really do hate Wal Mart and everything it stands for. The kicker being its an "American" franchise/company in Canada. I'd rather support local business'

              And that is my 2 cents.


            4. Patrick, I don't think it is ok that the court sided against women 5-4. I DID expect this from this court. The Scalia court is a modern travesty, the bend of which will take generations to muddle through yet again.