Wal-Mart, Jobs & Money

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Have you watched Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price? As you can tell by the title, the documentary is a scathing indictment of Wal-Mart and its anti-union, anti-woman, anti-minority, anti-environment, and anti-American culture.

I finally watched the movie, this weekend, and it tells the story of associates who can’t afford much, including health insurance, and who rely upon state & federal welfare programs to fill the gap. There are stories of anti-union efforts and violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act. The movie documents the plight of workers in China and Bangladesh who manufacture some of the stuff we buy at Wal-Mart. There’s a correlation made between poor working conditions in Asia and the fact that Wal-Mart imports poisonous and dangerous toys and foods.

I have a love/hate relationship with Wal-Mart. I really hate the way Wal-Mart brands itself as a company with values and yet violates those values as it makes political donations and maneuvers around regulations and restrictions in the free marketplace. I hate how Wal-Mart invokes a folksy American appeal as it buys goods and services from sweatshops in Asia. I hate how Wal-Mart shows little regard for working class issues that impact its associates [such as public health insurance, fair wages, and decent working conditions].

Here’s what I love about Wal-Mart.

  • My friends and family who have been hit hard by the recession can afford to provide for their families and pets because Wal-Mart’s prices are so low.

Unfortunately, many people in our society [& in my family] cannot afford to vote with their pocketbook, and they can’t afford to operate in their own best interests. They buy Wal-Mart stuff, propagate the cycle of economic violence against the middle-class, but can’t afford take their business elsewhere. It’s a catch-22. When my family members can purchase cheap food and 40 lbs of kitty litter for $2.99, Wal-Mart becomes relevant in a cynical but important way.

So what do you think about Wal-Mart? Do you have a love/hate relationship with them? Has anyone worked for Wal-Mart? What can you tell me about their anti-union efforts? How are women & minorities treated within the company? Do you shop at Wal-Mart? Do you refuse to shop there? Is there any difference between Wal-Mart and Target?

Now that I’ve seen the movie, I would love to hear from you and get your thoughts.

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