I have to start out by making a concession. In my last piece on Wal-Mart it seems that I used a poor choice of words when I stated that Wal-Mart opening more stores was not a very good way to cut costs. The simple point that I was trying to make was that Wal-Mart, by openening more stores while continuing to shaft its employees on basic benefits and decent living wages, in my opinion, shows that Wal-Mart cares little for the well-being of its employees.
Here’s a fact: Wal-Mart reported record second quarter sales and earnings this year. The retailer’s net income for the second quarter was $2.8 billion (up 5.8%). This is the typical song and dance from these corporations…cut jobs and shaft employees while the company is raking in record profits (view the earnings statement).
So yes, I was wrong in stating that opening new stores was not a good way to cut costs as it will indeed increase store revenues. But how does that help the employees? Lee Scott has made it very clear that Wal-Mart has no intention of raising the wages of its workers.
But that’s not the point of this week’s rant. Today is the release of Robert Greenwald’s documentary “Wal-Mart: The Hight Cost of Low Price” which takes a look at what the mega-corporation is doing to our communities and our nation and it seems like the movie has Wal-Mart a little worried. According to an article in the NYTimes today, Wal-Mart is concerned that the film could be a success on the caliber of Michael Moore’s “Rober & Me” and do further harm to the company’s already sullied image.
Wal-Mart’s response: they hired some of the biggest names in the PR industry and have fired up a war room to try to ease the minds of reluctant shoppers. They’ve even gone so far as to make a film to counter Greenwald’s documentary which they’ve so cleverly titled “Why Wal-Mart Works & Why That Makes Some People Crazy”.
But here’s the truth of the matter people: the facts about Wal-Mart’s track record are out there for anyone who is willing to take the time to read them. Take for example a 10-year study done by Iowa State University entitled “Impact of the Wal-Mart Phenomenon on Rural Communities” in which they discuss Wal-Mart’s tactic of opening large stores in small rural areas where they can quickly become the dominant source for the local retail needs and the effect this has had on such communities.
Another study done by the Institute for Policy Studies entitled “Wal-Mart’s Pay Gap” illustrates how Wal-Mart CEOs are raking in at least 871 times the hourly wage that the average Wal-Mart employee in the United States is (and 50,000 times as much as the workers of Wal-Mart’s Chinese suppliers).