Mar 012005
Authors: JP Eichmiller

There are many reasons to despise the greed-driven uber-corporation known as Wal-Mart. The shear size and hostile tactics of the retail behemoth invites attacks from those concerned about the loss of American identity and jobs across the country.

It is no wonder that much of the world views us as a money-first, consequences-later society as the company spreads its greedy paws across Europe, South America and Asia. Last week we were given a local reminder of the evil tactics employed by Wal-Mart to suppress employees and communities from challenging its rule over North America.

Workers at the Loveland Supercenter's tire and lube department rejected a proposal to join the same union that all grocery workers for Safeway, King Soopers and Albertsons belong to. That the employees rejected such an obviously good proposal speaks volumes about the company's tactics of intimidation toward keeping its workers from defending themselves against unfair labor tactics.

Perhaps it is possible that the workers simply did not desire to join a fee-paying union. Or perhaps the employees were reminded of Wal-Mart's reactions to previous unionization efforts. For example, when butchers at one store voted to join a meatpackers union, the company simply eliminated the workers' positions, at every store in the country.

Last week the employees of an entire store in Canada voted to join up with a Canadian-based union. Wal-Mart's reaction: shut down the store amid claims of unprofitability. The former employees are currently seeking government assistance to force the company to prove its claim.

Wal-Mart is the largest employer in the United States and Mexico. While high employment seems positive on the surface, in reality this is far from a good thing. Wal-Mart is notorious for treating its employees like garbage and expecting them to be thankful for it. The company is currently being sued in 40 cases over reasons ranging from abuses of labor laws to the hiring of illegal aliens. In California, the retailer is being sued in a class-action suit by 1.6 million current and former female employees for reasons of lower pay scales and being passed over for promotions because of their gender.

A congressional house committee report, prompted by local protests to keep Wal-Mart Supercenters out of California communities, found that the company paid its workers on average $8.23 per hour. The same study found that supermarket workers belonging to unions were being paid on average $10.35 per hour.

What this translates into is that the opening of more Wal-Mart Supercenters equates to the closing of more supermarkets. As a result there are more employees working for lower wages. Lower wages equates to more reliance on government assistance in the form of health coverage, government-assisted living and food stamps. These are all programs funded by you and I, the taxpayers. The only winners in the deal are the Wal-Mart executives and shareholders who continue to gloat as they contribute to sending our country on a downward spiral.

Supporting Wal-Mart with your business is only supporting the company's absurd claim of providing a necessary service to its customers. In reality our country is better off when mega-corporations such as Wal-Mart, Starbucks and McDonald's are not encouraged to destroy all of the competition that stands in their way. If Wal-Mart can bring Kmart to the brink of elimination, what chance do the small-business owners of this country have?

JP Eichmiller is a junior technical journalism major. His columns run on Wednesdays in the Collegian.

 Posted by at 5:00 pm

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