Wal-Mart will do anything to keep its employees down.
A story today from the Wall Street Journal lays bare the company's plan to intimidate employees and discourage support of Democratic candidates. Using threats of fewer jobs and lost wages, Wal-Mart managers tried to convince employees not only of the downsides to unionization, but the danger Barack Obama's election would pose for the company. From the Journal:
According to about a dozen Wal-Mart employees who attended such meetings in seven states, Wal-Mart executives claim that employees at unionized stores would have to pay hefty union dues while getting nothing in return, and may have to go on strike without compensation. Also, unionization could mean fewer jobs as labor costs rise.
More than anything, this story reveals the truth about Wal-Mart. Despite the millions of dollars Wal-Mart spends to improve its image, a look behind the mask reveals a company that has not changed its appalling business practices at all. The company depends on low wages to stay profitable, and is willing to go to any lengths necessary to ensure its employees never gain the power to talk back to their employer.
Even more disturbing, the stories prove Wal-Mart is willing to intimidate, use scare tactics and mislead workers about the impact of the Employee Free Choice Act in a manner which could potentially impact the outcome of the November election.
Wal-Mart's hourly employees are part of a large group of American workers who are suffering the most in these tough economic times. The company's move to block initiatives that could potentially help this section of U.S. society contradicts its "Save Money. Live Better." promises to low-income Americans.
Meanwhile, Wal-Mart is doing better than ever. The company is not only the largest company in the world by revenue, it's also the largest private employer in the United States. Despite its massive profits and hefty responsibility as an employer, Wal-Mart has done little to improve the lives of its employees. Wages at the company have actually declined since 2004, and the company's political involvement shows its commitment to keeping wages low.
Wal-Mart's aggressive efforts to keep unions out of its stores using intimidation and deceit show how desperately Wal-Mart wants to maintain the status quo in which the company pays poorly, refuses to compensate workers for time worked, discriminates against workers and offers poor benefits. The current Wal-Mart culture is good for Wal-Mart executives, good for the Walton family, but bad for Wal-Mart's hourly employees.