[lbo-talk] Wal-Mart as Robin Hood

jthorn65 at sbcglobal.net jthorn65 at sbcglobal.net
Mon Mar 7 19:41:04 PST 2005

> But he has a point - in many rural areas (cf. PA) Walmart is a blessing both
> in terms of employment and shopping opportunities. I do not like Walmart
> because their service and commodity tend to be of poor quality, their
> selection is not exactly in my taste, the place is crowded, lines are long -
> so why bother? But their labor practices are not that much different from
> other retailers.
> Wojtek

Back in the early eighties when I graduated from HS I took my first job at Kmart. The pay at that time was 20% better than at the nearby Wal-Mart. We were paid time and a half time for Sunday hours, Wal-Mart employees were not. Kmart employees had twice as many paid holidays as Wal-Mart employees. Part-time employees were paid 4 hours wages and full-time employees were paid for 8 hours at Kmart for holiday pay. Wal-Mart gave full-time employees but not part-time employees holiday pay for the few holidays they offered. If you worked a Sunday holiday you were paid double-time and a half but other holidays paid double time. Wal- Mart employees were paid straight time. Kmart gave its employees 5 days per year sick leave, FT or PT, Wal-Mart gave none. Kmart employees got their birthday off with pay, FT or PT employees, Wal-Mart didn't. Kmart employees were given a 20% discount, Wal-Mart employees received 10%. The amount with-held for insurance was noticeably less per month at Kmart than at Wal-mart for health insurance but the numbers have not stuck with through the years. Kmart was closed for a few major holidays a year but Wal-Mart forced that industry standard to change. Even today retailers like Sears pay their employees more and generally offer better benefits than Wal-Mart. These may all be small things but they do add something to the quality of life for most people as well as going a small way towards making employees feel appreciated. Wal-Mart has been putting downward pressure on wages in retail for many years. While the differences are less than they used to be it is because other employers feel compelled to match Wal-Marts policies in order to be competitive. Although it is impossible to state as a fact I believe that if Wal-Mart hadn't come into being retail work would pay more today than it does and retailers might not be open as many hours forcing people to work hours that are more difficult to schedule things around. It is possible another retailer might have done the same thing as Wal-Mart but it is not very probable in my opinion. The number 1 and 2 retailers when I began working were Sears and Kmart with Wal-Mart a distant third. There is no reason to assume if Wal-Mart had folded that one of the other large retailers would have adopted their more employee unfriendly policies. Wal-Mart sucks!

John Thornton

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