Friday, September 19, 2008

Wal-Mart--Low Ethics!

Like many Americans, I shop at Wal-Mart...an almost economic essential in these trying economic times. However, when I recently received an e-mail from an old friend, I had to stop and re-evaluate my preference for "low prices."
A few weeks ago, the Wall Street Journal published an article citing that human resources personnel at the nation's largest private employer are routinely walking the razor's edge of law by telling many of it's hourly workers not to vote for presidential candidate Senator Barack Obama. The purpose for this is to head off a hint of the possibility of unionization among its workers. Unionizing among its employees is something which the retailer has fought tooth, nail, and claw for years to keep out of its stores, and the retail giant feels that an Obama administration would make federal support for unionizing among the retailer's employees all but certain.
Granted, I knew about the criticism of the comparatively low wages that Wal-Mart allegedly pays its employees (it's why local legislators and activists in the city of Chicago fought hard to keep the retailer from building a store within its city limits, but eventually settled on a compromise in order to build there), but I hadn't a clue as to how deeply involved in the political process my soon-to-be-no-longer favorite store was, or of the extent of its attempt to stymie collective bargaining among its employees.
With the current administration's recent bailouts, takeovers, and loaning of federal money to lending giants Freddie Mac, Fannie Mae, American International Group (AIG), IndyBank, Bear- Sterns and others, its easy to see that government is willing to intervene during these trying economic times on the side of business (yeah, I know...that's "different"). However, business apparently views government action on it's behalf an exclusive privilege reserved for only its interests, and not worthy of the American worker. To that end, businesses like Wal-Mart are engaging in full-court hardball tactics such as PAC-funding what it feels to be "pro-business" candidates and informing it's employee who they should not vote for.
Given the current rate of rising unemployment in this country, for some Wal-Mart, the world's largest retail giant and the largest private employer in America, is the only place for potential employment. But being the only game in town should not translate into the right to tell one's employee's whom to vote for, Democrat, Republican, Libertarian, or whomever.
Sure, Wal-Mart can argue that keeping out unions and lobbying its representatives are its legal rights under the law. It can even argue that doing so is why many Americans such as myself are able to spend less money for roughly the same products as compared to other retailers' prices. However, are we supposed to believe that pressing it's employees is solely an egalitarian gesture on the retail giant's part to help you and I spend less money in a challenging economy? You be the judge.

For the complete story of how low Wal-Mart is willing to go to keep out unions, and to what extent it's involvement in the political process is a means to that particular end, please follow the link to the Wall Journal website.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB121755649066303381.html?mod=hpp_us_whats_news
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