Law School Discussion

wal-mart and unions

Re: wal-mart and unions
« Reply #50 on: August 06, 2008, 10:38:38 PM »
Threads like this should be left alone, however...

The American auto industry profited the 90's and early 2000's precisely because they were making products that satisfied people's wants and needs.  At the time, satisfying people's wants and need involved American auto makers building lots of trucks, SUVs, etc.

Sure, they failed (institutionally) to anticipate $4 a gallon gas and the market repercussions, but I would be interested to read about someone who did anticipate these changes in say 1995-2000.  Sure, Japanese automakers made more small cars, but I would submit that they did so because the Japanese market differed from the American market and they segued their expertise in small car sales into strength in the American small car market.

Labor costs far above the market cost of labor have almost incontrovertibly hampered Detroit's ability to compete with Japanese automakers with far lower fixed labor costs.   

It seems that Japanese automakers did not anticipate the dramatic increase in gas price because these companies were aggressively attempting to gain market share in America's Truck/SUV market (think Toyota tundra, Nissan Titan, etc).  Had they been so prescient to anticipate the rise in fuel costs and the market repercussions, perhaps those companies would have been contented to make soon to be even more profitable small cars?

Whether Wal-Mart's labor practices are fair or not is essentially a philosophical question.  I personally see no problem with them, in general, for many of the above stated reasons. 

It should be noted, however, that those opposed to Wal-Mart's current practices have a very real way to change them.  Simply band together and refuse to shop at Wal-Mart.  It seems that if Wal-Mart is as demonstrably exploitative as is suggested in this thread, and K-Mart and Target etc. provide as adequate a replacement as argued in this thread, then groups opposed to Wal-Mart should be able to make enough dent in Wal-Mart's profits to encourage Wal-Mart to change (precisely because paying more , providing health insurance, etc. would make it more profitable) without using the coercive power of the state to compel change.

An inability of those opposed to do so might suggest that 1) Wal-Mart is not as demonstrably exploitative as claimed 2) that Wal-Mart does something (provide a bevy of specific products at lower prices than its competitors) that Target cannot do, meaning that its competitors are not replacements or that 3) enough people are perfectly aware of the negative externalities associated with Wal-Mart's approach, but feel that saving 10 cents on a package of toilet paper is worth those negative externalities (on aggregate I have no idea how a negative externalities v. benefits analysis would turn out.  I suspect, however, that given individual's obvious willingness to shop there, Wal-Mart might come out on top.)

As an aside, invoking the notion of a "fair share" really is silly.  Markets efficiently decide what a product or service is worth.  Claiming that a company like Wal-Mart doesn't pay its employees their "fair share" demonstrates a disturbing willingness to mandate (by force if governmentally mandated) one belief system on those who honestly ascribe to another system.  This thread demonstrates that the definition of a "fair share" is essentially arbitrary--there are 6 pages here dedicated in no small part to arguing over what exactly a "fair share" is and the discussion could go on forever without resolution.  In brief, why should any other person's definition of a "fair share" be better than another person's definition?  Moreover, why should any personal definition be better than the market's?   

Re: wal-mart and unions
« Reply #51 on: August 06, 2008, 10:40:40 PM »
jeffislouie: please see my post above.

Also...without sources I'm not going to credit any statistics you cite. But regardless...just because other industries don't pay a living wage either doesn't mean wal-mart is off the hook. Also, the minimum wage isn't an objective "minimum" (thereby making your cute little argument that because they pay more than that, on average, they're not paying minimum wages for maximum work complete bunk unless the only way you define "minimum wages" is by the statutorily determined minimum wage). Someone working 40 hours a week at minimum wage with no unpaid time off in the year is just barely above the poverty line if they are the only person in their household, and below it if they are supporting anyone else.

Also, learn the difference between effects and affects.

Also, spaces between paragraphs? Is it that hard?

Saxby Clemens II

  • ****
  • 801
  • I'm Chuck Bass.
    • View Profile
Re: wal-mart and unions
« Reply #52 on: August 06, 2008, 11:14:03 PM »
Their institutional failures went far beyond not anticipating $4 gas, although there was adequate concern about foreign oil dependence at least 10 years ago that should have given someone a clue that perhaps shuttering Oldsmobile in favor of, say, Hummer, was a poor choice.  Honda has two divisions.  GM has nine in the United States alone.  Ford let the Taurus turn into a joke.  When Ford put out the Mustang, GM put out the GTO, a complete waste of time.  Now they're going to launch a muscle car when gas is $5 a gallon.  As is Chrysler, with the Challenger (although it's an amazing car). 

There are many, many decisions that have been made over the past 20 years alone that have helped put Detroit in the hole.  Blaming everything on unions or acting like the same employees would have been available to put out the same successful products that allowed these companies to see 100 years of existence had unions not fought for financial and physical security is disingenuous.     

Re: wal-mart and unions
« Reply #53 on: August 07, 2008, 05:37:54 AM »
I suppose a more legitimate comparison would be between unionizing Walmart and what the employees at Kroger experience with their union.  In the state of Kentucky, employees of Kroger, the giant grocery chain headquartered in Cincinnati, OH, are unionized both in the stores and warehouses.  Unfortunately, they are affiliated with the Teamsters.  The people I know personally who are employed by Kroger are disappointed with the union.  But again, as I stated in my earlier post, the Teamsters are such a rotten example of what a union is or should be. 

Unions are NOT the reason the auto industry is in a hole right now and anyone who says otherwise is not looking at the industry with any intellectual honesty.  While I do support the right of any employee or any group of employees to stand up and demand fair treatment, I'm not sure that unionizing Wal mart will improve the quality of life for its employees nor will it eliminate a significant amount of the corporate rottenness towards the employees.  If anything, it will probably increase the harshness with which the management behaves. 

If they could unionize, not under any existing union because most are riddled with corruption, with a new paradigm of getting back to what unions were created for, I think it would be great for both the company and the union.  Or if Walmart could just learn from Toyota who has successfully prevented unions from entering their plants by basically TREATING THEIR EMPLOYEES WITH SOME DIGNITY.  I know people who work at Toyota in Georgetown, KY who swear that Toyota employs the Yakuza to bust unions, but they still make an excellent wage, have excellent benefits, and produce a high quality product.  It just seems unAmerican to hate your employees as much as Walmart does. 

Boy, that was all over the place...haven't had that first cup yet...sorry

Saxby Clemens II

  • ****
  • 801
  • I'm Chuck Bass.
    • View Profile
Re: wal-mart and unions
« Reply #54 on: August 07, 2008, 10:24:40 AM »
 :D

It IS un-American to hate your employees!

Saxby Clemens II

  • ****
  • 801
  • I'm Chuck Bass.
    • View Profile
Re: wal-mart and unions
« Reply #55 on: August 07, 2008, 10:35:09 AM »
Sax, that was hot.  If I were your type, I'd do ya.

Oh, here it is!

I am always willing to try new things, as long as the new thing isn't shopping at Wal Mart. 

Matthies

  • ****
  • 3677
    • View Profile
    • Tell me where you are going to school and you get a cat!
Re: wal-mart and unions
« Reply #56 on: August 07, 2008, 11:00:40 AM »
:D

It IS un-American to hate your employees!

Unless they are illegal immigrants from Mexico, thatís seems to be all the rage these days.

::jumps on badnwagon starts the hate'n::

Re: wal-mart and unions
« Reply #57 on: August 07, 2008, 01:18:07 PM »
:D

It IS un-American to hate your employees!

Unless they are illegal immigrants from Mexico, thatís seems to be all the rage these days.

::jumps on badnwagon starts the hate'n::


Suppose in some circles it's not unAmerican to hate unAmericans...

vjm

  • ****
  • 1064
    • View Profile
Re: wal-mart and unions
« Reply #58 on: August 07, 2008, 02:02:07 PM »
I have worked in both unionized and nonunionized kitchens so I just thought I would chime in here with some real life observations.

1. Every union is different. Some suck for the workers, some suck for the owners, some are neutral. Some unions are very strong, some are weak. Some are corrupt, some are not. You get the picture. When you are talking about unions, you need to really do a lot of research into the particular union you are addressing.

2. Everybody worked their asses off in the nonunionized restaurants. Long days, harsh conditions, temperamental bosses that throw things when their cocaine delivery is late. Guess what? Exact same story in the unionized places. You bust your ass or you will be out on it.

Here's the difference, when I worked in unionized places I actually got paid correctly for all my work. That has happened only once in any nonunionized shop. If my boss wants to have a skeleton kitchen staff, and work us all to death six or seven days a week, he can. But he has to compensate me according to our employment agreement. If there is some kind of problem with pay or hours or vacation or whatever, I have two choices in a nonunionized shop- STFU or leave. In a unionized shop, I have backup. I don't have to pay for a lawyer (impossible) and I don't have to take a lot of unpaid time straightening it out. I can just continue earning the money I so desperately need to work paycheck to paycheck.

I never had to work for a bad union, maybe it is a whole different kettle of fish, but the hotels and resorts where I did have a union card seemed to managed to continue with the profitability they have always enjoyed.

And no, I am not even addressing the whole Wal-Mart question directly.

Matthies

  • ****
  • 3677
    • View Profile
    • Tell me where you are going to school and you get a cat!
Re: wal-mart and unions
« Reply #59 on: August 07, 2008, 02:17:58 PM »
:D

It IS un-American to hate your employees!

Unless they are illegal immigrants from Mexico, thatís seems to be all the rage these days.

::jumps on badnwagon starts the hate'n::


Suppose in some circles it's not unAmerican to hate unAmericans...
\
That's just UnAmerican ask Lou Dobbs