Thursday, November 21, 2013

Getting Back At The Grinch Who Stole Thanksgiving

Economist Robert Reich's noteworthy essay "What Walmart Could Learn From Henry Ford" discusses among other issues Walmart's business model of reliance on low wages rather than more sales for its operations. He further discusses how  this policy is bad for the American economy as a whole. Reich urges consumers to boycott Walmart on Nov. 28 and 29th.  The  28th is Thanksgiving, but it is now also a retroactive extension of  Black Friday and is just another working day for Walmart employees who will "celebrate" the holiday in the break room instead of with their families.

Let's face it.  Walmart gets away with its abusive practices because consumers continue to shop there. All that people have to do to get this company to act humanely to its workers is boycott the damn place. But that won't happen because evidently shoppers in the U.S.would rather save a few bucks on the backs of exploited employees at places like Walmart, even though the ones who work there are their neighbors and maybe even family members.  (As a tacit admission that it doesn't adequately pay its people, a Walmart store in Ohio is  requesting holiday donations of canned food from employees for their hard up co-workers {how the store  will determine criteria for the recipients is unclear}). However, the company as a whole could increase its average wage of $9.00  per hour to $14.89 simply by refraining from buying back its own stock!

We all know that most Americans  workers were hurt  to one extent or another by the Great Recession.  Yet when it comes to the plight of Walmart employees, they show no sympathy for these fellow  members of the labor  force, let alone demonstrate a willingness to take to the streets to demand redress even for their own interests, unlike their forbears in the U.S. and modern day counterparts in Europe.

But for those who are are too intimidated or lazy to hit the bricks,  then they can simply refuse to do business  not just for two days at the end of November as per Reich's suggestion, but every day against companies like Walmart that not only underpay and mistreat  their employees, but in doing so drag down wages across the board for Americans as a wholeFurthermore, such boycotts  would not require a great deal of personal effort, and they  would be a major  step in the right direction of taking back the country from exploitive businesses.  In short, it's high time that Americans finally recognize and stand up for the entitled rights of U.S. workers to decent pay and working conditions. Only when that happens will  we be able to  put the"thanks" back into Thanksgiving.
Nov. 24 Update, To add insult to injury, according to "Walmart Thanksgiving Pay: Sounds Good, But…" unlike many (most?) other retailers Walmart doesn't even pay its employees who work on Thanksgiving a fixed overtime rate, e.g. the standard time and a half.  Instead the additional wage is computed based on a formula that depending on the number of hours the worker put in during the week prior the holiday,  his/her Thanksgiving pay may be little more than that earned on a regular workday.


Anonymous said...

Walmart's approach to there workers could change if the workers would unionize. But the company's attitude to unions is well know.
Ever wonder why they closed their stores in Quebec?

Secular Guy said...


Thanks for your response. Yes, Walmart's antagonistic attitude towards unions is well known and will change (as they say here in the Philippines) "when the raven turns white".

As for Quebec, I understand that the Walmart workers voted for a union there , but then later changed their minds.