opinion, respond to three short articles

Karen Olsson finds the truth about the hard working retail associates at wal-mart in her essay Up Against Wal-Mart. She begins with an individual employee Jennifer McLaughlin who is a mother of one child and lives with her boyfriend, and is currently employed with Wal-Mart in Paris, Texas. She works as an associate but is not just told to do one job but in a days work can go from working one department to the next and even putting products out and helping customers. She is a very hard worker and puts in a lot of effort everyday and its getting her no where. She is not able to afford life, with the amount that they pay her. The company Wal-Mart is not union so she receives no benefits, so if she wants to carry health insurance she would have to pay out of her own paycheck to receive it. Health insurance is to much to afford on her wage and has to rely on government assistance to give her child the things he needs. The author then writes about how the company started and how from day one Wal-Marthas been looking for ways to cut corners to save a dollar. All Wal-Mart companies are non-union, they are actually very against it if an associate is even to bring it up they could possibly loose their job. Wal-Mart has been put through many law cases on unfair wages and treatment of employees but they just continue to keep doing it. Wal-Mart is a big enough company that they can notbestoppped by the associates they have working for them. Wal-Mart holds all the power and has enough money to prolong cases and even if they do loose can just pay the fine and move on to doing the same thing. Associates are asked to do incredible tasks not just perform hard labor all day throughout the store but they are even asked to work over time with no pay. Who would want to work for no pay? I would think no one would volunteer their time to work at Wal-mart for free but it is happening all over. Why? Because they have to the associates want to hopefully get promotions or not loose their hours that they are getting or even far worse loose their jobs so they continue to put forth effort with no reward. It is extremely unfair what these employees have to do I don’t understand why either because Wal-Mart makes so much money all over the United States. The profit margin for Wal-mart must be enormous that they can do all this to their employees free labor, that is slavery. I believe something should be done to help the associates their and I believe in unions. They help retail employees a lot because they aren’t being paid very much but a union offers benefits like health insurance which is very important.


According to Sebastian Mallaby in his essay “Progressive Wal-Mart. Really,” the giant retailer might be helping Americans fight medical inflation, but, at the same times they are enriching shareholders and putting rivals out of business. Also, asserts Mallaby, Wal-Mart is against retailers who advertise campaign and confuse poor Americans about food prices. Since Wal-Mart discount on food is big enough to boost the welfare of American shoppers by 50,000 billion in a year. Nevertheless, most critics say that Wal-Mart has caused an annual loss of wages for American workers in the retail sector, but when it opened a new store, wrote Mallaby, they received twelve times more applications that needed for the low benefits and unattractive job they had posted. Even if Wal-Mart busted the union and still pays lower wages to its workers, the purchasing power of the wages remains the some quantity product at the Wal-Mart low priced shelves. According to Mallaby, if one really wants to find the real cost of Wal-Mart’s lower prices, that person should go to China to see how their workers sweat for pennies to keep Wal-Mart’s shelves stocked with goods. Even worse, many Chinese earned less than Wal-Mart subcontractors paid for their labor. Also, according to Mallaby, accusing Wal-Mart as a parasite on taxpayers is unfair because other retail firms have a slightly lower percent of workers on Medicaid plans. Wal-Mart says workers should be thankful to the company that keeps Medicaid people employed.
According to Mallaby, companies like Wal-Mart treat their workers poorly and maintain poor work environments because the company rulers are not saints. All Americans have to know that Wal-Mart is the center of a global technology that drives economy, and in these days of world crisis, the economy should be thankful for the $200 billion that Wal-Mart consumer gains annually.
Thursday, November 29, 2012
Michael Bender’s op/ed appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle
Walmart had its best Black Friday ever last week, and yet the media coverage created the illusion that Walmart’s associates were protesting instead of serving customers. Nothing could be further from the truth. We could not be more proud of our associates.

Well-meaning people following the Walmart “protests” should suspend their assumptions about what our associates think of their jobs for a moment and consider what’s really going on here. Our associates are hardworking women and men who have chosen to work for us — as a part-time job or a long-term career. They are proud of their jobs and, contrary to popular belief, quite happy in them. Only about 100 out of our 1.3 million people took part in Black Friday “protests”; the people you saw on TV do not work for us.
And yet some unions, as well as community activists, academics and others, keep volunteering to speak for our associates. Some of it may come from a good place, but, frankly, it assumes that our associates don’t know what’s best for their own lives and families.

Our associates find it frustrating to see their life choices disparaged by outsiders, and they’ve urged us to respond. Walmart recently filed its first National Labor Relations Board complaint in more than a decade to stop the United Food and Commercial Workers union from falsely claiming to speak for them. Federal law prohibits picketing for recognition for more than 30 days without calling for a union vote, and the activities by the UFCW have gone far beyond that. The group is essentially trying to speak for our associates without their consent. That’s just not acceptable.

I want our associates to know that we have their backs. Here’s some hard data that tells the real story.

First, let me introduce you to what I call “the 86 percent.” You’ve heard of “the 99 percent” and “the 47 percent,” but who are the “86 percent”? We recently did a confidential survey of more than 20,000 hourly workers to see what’s really on our associates’ minds. Some 86 percent responded they “agree” or “strongly agree” with the statement “I really love my job.” Then 89 percent said they’d “definitely recommend my company to a friend.” This helps explain why 99.99 percent of our associates declined the chance to protest against Walmart.

Our associates know the truth: We typically pay as much or more than the competition, the majority of our associates work full time, and entry-level pay often exceeds that of union hires. We offer quarterly bonus opportunities and have paid out $550 million in cash bonuses this year. We also offer careers, not just jobs: 75 percent of our store management teams started as hourly associates, and we’ve promoted 165,000 associates this year. Of those we hired last year, 20 percent were rehires — meaning they worked for Walmart, left, but came back. I could go on, but the bottom line is we are offering competitive jobs, and we treat our associates fairly.

Like any workplace, there will always be a few people who don’t have the experience they were expecting. It’s not surprising that an outside group can use that same handful of folks to make noise. But the overwhelming majority of Walmart associates who love their jobs deserve a voice, too.

It’s ironic — the union group calls itself the Organization United for Respect at Walmart. And yet they are not treating our associates with the respect they deserve.

Michael Bender is the president of Walmart West.



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