Monday, October 31, 2005

America's Company

According to CNN online, Walmart CEO Lee Scott says the government needs to raise the national minimum wage. He says:

"The U.S. minimum wage of $5.15 an hour has not been raised in nearly a decade and we believe it is out of date with the times," Scott said. "We can see first-hand at Wal-Mart how many of our customers are struggling to get by. Our customers simply don't have the money to buy basic necessities between pay checks."

Is he kidding? If he isn’t he is unbelievably out of touch with his own employees. They don’t have the money to buy basic necessities between paychecks themselves.

I worked for Walmart myself a while back. I worked for them more than once. I worked in 4 different stores and at different positions. I worked in the Sporting Goods, Hardware, Automotive, and Electronic departments. I also worked on the overnight cleaning crew and as an overnight grocery stocker. I know what I’m talking about on this one.

Back when I was badly in need of a job, (when I was trying to stay off welfare) I was hired to work at $8.00 an hour. No commissions, no perks, no incentives, except the usual payroll deducted fringe benefits. The insurance was nearly useless. There were more ways for the insurance company to get out of paying for anything than Carter’s has little liver pills. And you couldn’t afford it anyway. The premium is too high.

After the first 3 months, there was a job evaluation, wherein, if you had progressed satisfactorily, you could receive a raise. If you were judged exceptional you could get a 5% raise. If you were above average, a 4% raise. If you were average, you received a 3% raise. You got another evaluation at the six month point, and then after that, once a year, on or near your anniversary date.

I never knew anyone who received a 5% raise. Ever.

Eventually I quit, but soon after I was forced to go back there due to more difficulty finding work. This time I lived in another area of the country so it wasn’t the same Walmart as before. I was hired again at $8.00 an hour. Nevermind that I had previously attained the level of $8.65, I had to start over at $8.00. Once again, I received a raise to $8.32 an hour before I found a better paying job and was able to quit again.

The new job laid me off after about 6 months so I ended up back at Walmart again. Only this time the corporation had brought in consultants while I was gone.

Don’t get me started on Consultants.

My new wage was $6.10 an hour, with a shift differential of $.15 and an additional stipend of $.50 an hour because I had experience. Consultants had decided that the company could make bigger profits if they didn’t pay so much in wages. I didn’t stay long enough to get my first evaluation this time.

I won’t go back.

There are employees there that make a pretty good living actually. Because Walmart is their second job. I myself was working another job when I was there the last time. I had gotten a part time job about the same time I got the job with Walmart. My part time job was less than half the hours I worked at Walmart, but paid double. When I got the opportunity to go full time, I asked Walmart if they would allow me to work only on weekends to accommodate my other job. They refused, so I quit.

So now, Mr Scott thinks that America should increase minimum wage so that the customers who patronize his business can afford to spend more, and, in doing so, will make even more profit for his store, and him. You can bet, that since Walmart already pays more than minimum wage that he won’t insist that his own company increase it’s minimum wage.

Scott also discussed a new health-care package with lower premiums for Wal-Mart workers.
The new "Value option" plan, which will be introduced Jan. 1 2006, offers insurance coverage of $23 a month "and kids covered for less than 50 cents per day ... no matter how many children," Scott said.

I am unfamiliar with this new health care plan he’s talking about but if it is more affordable than the one they have now, it will be less than useless. A co-worker of mine at Walmart has an advanced case of diabetes and Walmart’s health care plan didn’t cover any aspects of it at all. If Walmart holds true to form, the new Health Care plan will be even worse than the present plan.

I don’t shop at Walmart any more than absolutely necessary. I don’t want my money helping them to keep their employees below the poverty level while lining their upper management’s pockets.

27 comments:

The WordSmith from Nantucket said...

I'm not sure if raising minimum wage will solve the economic problems that you'd think it would solve. What are the economic consequences when that happens?

And, Mark I feel your pain. I once was a loss prevention specialist for The Gap, and later a lead cashier when I kicked the full-time position; but i worked part-time for many years before finally letting go of it. Typical raises for most employees, I believe, would be like .35 cents. I think I started out at $7.50 and when I left I was making almost $11. Since I had no ambitions to work my way up the chain of command in retail clothing, I was glad when I finally kicked it to the curb. It wasn't all bad, though. I still have stock through the company's employee plan, though It doesn't look like the Company's been faring too well for some time now.

Sheila said...

Good Morning,

I don't shop at Walmart either. They are wolves dressed in sheeps clothing. When I stopped shopping there it was because of the percentage of Chinese goods that were sold close to 100%.

Then I heard about the lack of relevant health insurance and pay. Shamefull.

I can tell by everyone's comments that we've all seen our share of hard times. Therefore, "The Fleecing of Average Americans" is understood by all of us.

The less you make the more your taken advantge of. Walmart has used their sunny smiley image to hide what their really like.

Mark said...

I believe that raising the minimum wage nationally only creates a kind of "vicious circle" of rising prices and rising wages and only serves to create inflation. Raise the wages and the companies raise the prices to cover the loss of profit due to higher payroll, then the prices have to be raised again to afford the higher prices and then the prices get raised again accordingly, and on and on and on.

But the reason I posted this conmmentary was when I read the statement Lee Scott made that demonstrated his hypocrisy.

Sheila said...

Mark,

I agree. :) The "Moderate" AKA Liberal agrees. The point is this. The minimum wage should be looked as the bottom line to where the government sets pay scale. Only That. The government is ensuring third world conditions don't occur in this country.

A lot of people don't look at the base line of minimum wage the way they should. If we didn't have it, A doller could very well be the base. The government is just putting a limit on employers. The cost of living does the rest.

Vertually all employers start at between 8 and 10 dollars and hour anyway if the position is unskilled. And yes we all know it's damn low.

But life would be so much more uncomfortable if the minimum wage was raised.

The rest of the explanation is what Mark said above. No need to revisit.

Erudite Redneck said...

Inflation is not bad. No one with any sense wants "zero inflation" because it means "zero growth" and it leaves us susceptible to deflation, which is worse than inflation. (See the Depression).

High inflation is bad. Raising the minimum wage contributes to inflation? OK. If so, there are other ways to try to keep high inflation in check, including notching up interest rates a tad. (See the fed currently).

Mark, that was a pretty good whack at Wal-Mart. Wally World is only the most successful gargantuan business out there. It's what all big businesses want to be when they grow up. Why is it again that you're a "conservative"?

--ER

Jaymeister said...

Henry Ford might disagree with you.

Mark said...

I have nothing against Walmart being in business. They have earned what they have achieved. That is the free enterprise system. I simply hate the way Walmart treats their workers. And that guy, Scott is really a jerk.

In this area, the other stores almost drive people to shop at Walmart because their prices are almost double what Walmart charges. Consequently stores go out of business. No one wants to pay more for their goods than they absolutely have to.

So, if Walmart can do it, why can't anyone else?

Mark said...

Jay, Profits drive prices and wages. If Walmart would accept lower profits they could pay a living wage, in my opinion. I think that's what Henry Ford had in mind. And I agree with that.

Jaymeister said...

Ford's idea was that the very people he paid would be buying his product, and creating even more profits. The Walmart model appears to be just the opposite: Pay them little and give them low benefits so they can't afford to shop anywhere but at Walmart.

Mark said...

Exactly Jay, and that isn't even half of the problem I have with Walmart.

Toad734 said...

Now you are speaking my language. There is no reason to ever shop at Wal-Mart unless you live in a tiny town in the middle of no where that has already had all their local "main street" economy put out of business by Wal-Mart. And then you shouldn't shop there you should burn it down. Chicago has still been able to keep these assholes out of our city limits and has kept most of Chicago independent/family owned. My neighborhood is booming right now and a Quiznos (no one goes there) and a Starbucks have both showed up and put one local coffee shop out of business. The chamber of commerce is drafting a resolution to keep all national chains out of our business district. That's Democracy in action.

Maybe the solution to Wal-Marts problem isn’t the minimum wage but buying American which will keep these people from having to work minimum wage type jobs. People in America will make shoes if you let them!

Just so you know an independent film about Wal-Mart is going to be having screenings in almost all major markets, sign up to see it now, or buy the dvd: http://www.walmartmovie.com/

Toad734 said...

Henry Ford was smart enough to realize that if he paid his workers enough they would buy his products (except for the Jews); Wal-Mart can't quite figure that one out.

How is it that raising minimum wage only increases costs and inflation but Cutting rich peoples taxes (who don't spend all that money) doesn't? What is the difference? What raising minimum wage would do would take the people who are making minimum wage and get them off Federal Assistance which would lower our budget expenditures, decrease our debt and jump start the stock market and thus our entire economy.

The only trickle down economics I agree with is forced trickle down economics. It's a pretty simple concept; break rich peoples shit and they will hire the working class to fix it, replace or sell them a new one. In Forced Trickle Down Economics rich people are forced to put their money back into the economy and share it with the rest of us without government intervention.

Xena76 said...

Just as a note for comic relief, have any of you seen the episode of South Park about Wal-Mart? If you haven't, it is worth the time trying to find it...

tugboatcapn said...

People in America don't appreciate anything anymore...

If I owned the Wal-Mart corporation, I would close it down.

The WHOLE THING.

I would liquidate all of the corporate assets, and pile all of that money up into a pile.
I would then sit atop my pile of money, and watch all of my former employees starve to death on a twelve foot plasma screen television.

What makes anyone think that a corporation is evil, just because unskilled people can't make a living working there at entry level wages?

How much would a tube of toothpaste cost at Wal-Mart if they had to pay every employee Eighteen dollars an hour?

Wal-Mart tries to keep their prices low, and this means that they have to be frugal.
Low prices are the reason that people shop there.
People shopping there is the ONLY reason that ANYONE has a job there AT ALL.
AT ANY RATE OF PAY.

God, I wish someone still taught Basic Economics somewhere, to someone!!

Daffy76 said...

Mark, I'm disappointed. I thought you were a conservative, but this post is so far to the left I'm starting to wonder. Tug's right. Walmart is in business to make money. The people who work there choose to work there. They accept the benefits and compensation package they are offered and if they don't like it, they seek employment elsewhere.

Let's look at it this way--my work is a commodity. What a company pays me is the price I set for the commodity. The company I work for is not responsible for taking care of me. I am. It is my work I have sold them by being employed by them. They have not adopted me. Therefore, what health care I get, whether I am able to shop at expensive stores, what kind of restuarants I can afford to eat in, etc. are not the responsibility of the company I work for. They are my responsibility and only mine. It's how I handle the money I am paid for the commodity of my work, that determines whether I can do all of those I mentioned. If I accept a price for my work lower than I can comfortably afford to live on, that is my problem-not my employer's.

Erudite Redneck said...

What boggles my mind is how people who profess to believe in the most radical religious leader of all time can be so selfish, self-reliant and self-deluded.

The free market economy is based on greed. Greed is bad, according to the man from Galilee. That's what I don't understand.

Freedom, yes. Unfettered freedom, no -- and we never HAVE had that in this country. This country has always taken steps to keep the totally free market in check.

--ER

Mark said...

Well, perhaps my judgement is clouded by my hatred of Walmart.I don't hate them for neing successful. I admire tham for that. It is a personal thing. I hate them from having had to work for them. And I did Have to work for them or go homeless. At the time I had no other options.

ER, Are you talking about me? Selfish, self- reliant, and self deluded?

Wait a minute. What's wrong with self reliant? That is a good thing, isn't it? If we aren't self reliant, who besides God are we to rely on? And how can we trust that person?

Toad734 said...

If Wal-Mart wants to make more money for the corporation then maybe they should cut they pay of their executives not their workers.

In 2004 H. Lee Scott Jr. President and CEO (not the founder) of Wal-Mart made 22,991,599 dollars from Wal-Mart. If Wal-Mart only paid him $991,599 per year they could take the other $22,000,000 and give 5,288 employees a $2 per hour raise. S. Robson Walton, Chairman of Wal-Mart is worth 17 Billion dollars. If you divided up his net worth and paid it to all the US employees of Wal-Mart they would all get a $4.80 per hour raise which is $10,000 per year. If you gave all of Walmarts 1,200,000 US employees a $2 per hour, or $4160 per year raise it would only account for 1.7% of Walmarts annual sales revenue. Walmarts employees earn 20% less than unionized grocery store employees.

So don't talk about economics or capitalism; it's greed plain and simple and all the corporate executives of Wal-Mart are going to hell for what they are doing.

These guys don't create jobs they eliminate jobs. Don't get the two confused.

Man I need to make my own post with this information.

Erudite Redneck said...

Mark, I'm talking about adherents to the conservative political philosophy.

In the spiritual relam, being selfish sends you to hell. That is the very basis of the Christian faith.

In the political realm, being selfish makes you conservative. Enlightened self interest is one thing. What's fab nowadays is plan old mean-spirited selfishness.

Now, someone tell me how they can get from Jesus to conservatism as we know it today. I just do not see it.

--ER

Anonymous said...

That Press guy is full of himself. There are plenty of selfish liberals. Kennedy and Kerry come to mind. Why doesn't he insist that they give up their fortunes?

Erudite Redneck said...

OK. They should give up their riches. What else ya got?

--ER

Mark said...

Well, ER, in spite of what my friends, Tug and Daffy say, I am both conservative and fairly unselfish. I am somewhat selfish, as everyone is, and must be. Selfishness is part of Self preservation.

I don't aspire to be rich, I only want to be able to pay my bills on time and have funds left over for both emergencies and recreation, not either or.

Just paying bills with anything left over is not possible on what Walmart pays. That is why nearly every employee of Walmart has a second and sometimes even a third job.

I don't agree that anyone should be made to give up their wealth. That is a personal decision on their part. Jesus did not condemn wealthy people, He condemned wealthy people who put their wealth before God.

If we are Christian, we shouldn't need to have our money forcefully removed from our wallets, not by government or anyone else. However, we should give it willingly, out of Love for God and our fellow man, without expecting reward for our generosity.

Perhaps the governmet should take Christ at His word and allow the people to voluntarily take care of the poor, and let the power of God be made manifest in His people.

It is a sin to think that God is incapable of taking care of His people without reliance on the government.

"Silver or gold have I none, but what I have, I will give to thee"

Erudite Redneck said...

Well, I don't usually go around passing out sins, but I were to, I think I'd have to call it a sin for a Christian to refuse to avail himself of a vote that would be more likely than not to result in this country's resources being shifted from those who have to those who have not.

(BTW, you seem to think I'm attacking you personally. I am not.)

There is no Christian basis for a free market over any other kind of economic model, and in fact, there are pretty good Christian arguments against such freedom. Righties want to call redistribution of wealth "robbery." Bullsnot. It's as much a part of American economic history as the notion of independence.



--ER

BRUISER said...

Mall*Wart doesn't buy American Made goods anymore plain and simple. Why would the usual neo-nationalists on the Right ever buy anything made outside of America? It just seems theywould like to have it both ways. I am sure they will say "Its due in part to the Globalization of the Free Marketplace"...At the same time they are trying to put limits on the personnal freedoms of Americans...which is fine....but if You are all gung-ho about having a free Iraq... why not start in America ...invest in America...and make personnal growth and wealth an American trait once again?

Come on who disagrees with me?

***Mall*Wart ...made for your children by children

Mark said...

Ha, I like the slogan, "Mall*Wart, Suppliers of cheap plastic crap to the world."

Erudite Redneck said...

A rare non-swearing, non-sneering comment from Brusier. Keep it up, dude.

Daffy76 said...

This whole discussion is making me angry. Mark, I'm sorry for the dig about being conservative. I know really are. But you have to admit, what you wrote is not in-line with conservative fiscal philosophy.

ER, this is not a matter of selfishness or non-selfishness. This has nothing to do with whether or not people are greedy. Why is no one getting this concept? It has to do with Capitalism. The concept is simple. People go into business to make money. Some are better at it than others. Walmart happens to be very good at it. And again, what an employee agrees to work for is negotiable. You choose where you work, even if you choose it out of desperation.

If the CEO of Walmart is a Christian, then he should give his tithe as he feels led and whatever he deems appropriate elsewhere. He should be good to his employees, but across the board, are Walmart's wages really alot lower than the wages offered by similar businesses- Target, K-mart, etc.? This is a particular job market you are talking about. We're not talking rocket-science here.

And most people are happy with redistribution of wealth as long as they are not the wealthy ones. You of all people who believe so soundly in separation of church and state, should see the flaw in your logic here. You want to keep prayer out of schools and the 10 Commandments out of the court-rooms, but base the entirety of our fiscal policy on the teachings of Jesus. Lately, ER your horse just gets higher and higher.