Law School Discussion

wal-mart and unions

Julie Fern

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Re: wal-mart and unions
« Reply #20 on: August 02, 2008, 06:38:11 PM »
apparently wal-mart not realize there lot more employees than managers:

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB121755649066303381.html

Not really -- they're just focusing on the people they're allowed to speak with.

Also, managers are of course employees.

ok, preppie.  peons and managers.  and there always more peons.

Re: wal-mart and unions
« Reply #21 on: August 02, 2008, 08:07:53 PM »
...and I guess you blame the miserable losses that GM and Ford are taking right now on labor costs, right?  Those evil unions are causing the 12 billion dollars in losses...surely it's not that the management refused to use any of the windfall profits from their SUV sales in the 90's and early 2000's to invest in better fuel economy.  Noooo, no corporate responsibility, that would be heresy.  No they just jacked up the compensation packages for the upper management and played hardball when it came contract time for the hourly employees.  Now all the fund managers are crying in their beer because their pyramid scheme in the mortgage industry is falling apart and the oil speculators are driving oil prices into the stratosphere.  And you can blame China and India for the high gas prices all you want but even conservative economists put $40-$50 of the price of a barrel of oil on pure speculative mark up. 

My point is, and I do have one, that every position in this argument has a scapegoat.  Mine is executive level management.  Yours is the working poor, wage earners.  You can claim it's the evil unions, but ultimately it's the workers getting the shaft. 

sheltron5000

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Re: wal-mart and unions
« Reply #22 on: August 03, 2008, 02:28:11 AM »
First of all, walmart is the largest single employer in the US. That means that there are more walmart jobs than jobs of any other kind, that is why we pick on walmart. That means that without unions the employees have absolutely no power to negotiate wages. Just as all the conservatives have said, if you work for walmart and tell your boss you want $0.50 extra per hour, they'll laugh at you or fire you.
Second of all, labor is not a resource like other things. If you have an ounce of gold and someone offers you a price you don't like, you can hold on it it and wait for a better price. If someone offers you a bad job with no health care, eventually you are FORCED to accept it--you have to pay for all those bigmacs somehow.

But the truth of the situation is that walmart is already running with as few employees as they believe they can and still make money. Increasing labor costs (or making them reflect the real cost on society) is not going to cause massive layoffs at walmart. And neither will it hurt the company, which does not operate at slim margins, it is wildly profitable.

So yes, walmart hates unions; they cost walmart money. But just as walmart negotiates with the factories in china (which by the way, lindbergh, I never complained about), unions negotiate with walmart. The problem is that as the law stands now, walmart can very easily quash any unions by threatening all their employees with firings.

As for the taxes issue, MY taxes aren't going up, and, likely, neither are yours, Earlcat. And yes, I do have a problem with walmart's not paying its fair share of the tax burdon.  Rather than trying to close the tax loopholes that they are sooo good at creating, I'm asking my congress person to ask them to shoulder it in a different way, by making it easier to unionize and force them to pay the REAL costs of labor.

If you have a problem with your taxes going up, I suggest you take that up with your congress person, you might mention corporate loop holes.

Gengiswump

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Re: wal-mart and unions
« Reply #23 on: August 03, 2008, 02:30:56 PM »
Let me just note for the record that I think it's terrible that companies like walmart and costco provide low-cost goods for working class families, improving their standard of living. 

I think it's terrible that they purchase good from China, meaning a higher standard of living for people far worse off than the poorest american.  I also think it's terrible that such trade creates economic interdependence, and minimizes the risk of military conflict with such countries. 

Finally, I think it's terrible that such companies provide jobs for low-skilled people, until they can find better jobs. 

Given that the standard of living for most americans has gone up over the last few decades, not down, and that the unemployment rate has gone down over the last few decades, not up, it is clear that such policies are harmful to our nation, and must be stopped. 

Umm, just to chime in here, you can't put WalMart and CostCo in the same group at all when it comes to employee welfare and benefits.  For 1) it's just patently disingenuous to have them in the same group as they are not generally recognized as the same market - it should be Sam's Club and CostCo, not WalMart and Costco.  2) CostCo pays a much better average wage ($18 p/h on the floor, as I recall, yes there is, in fact, an article that articulates this fact while detailing the somewhat revolutionary managerial style of CostCo's CEO) than Walmart/Sam's Club and provides better benefits.

I mean, if you want to defend WalMart I think you're a raging loony, but at least be honest in your lunacy.  Let's not pretend like the salaries paid at Walmart are super reasonable, nor that the benefits provided are astronomical to the community at large.  Not to mention that WalMart just loves censorship.  C'mon now.  If you want a company to hold up as a positive example of non-unionization, at least pick one that's a wee bit less controversial in employee treatment, like IBM or something.  (Though IBM's controversy isn't exactly nonexistent, at least it's more difficult to assert that people aren't being paid and don't have other options.)

For the record, if it isn't clear, I'm distinctly pro-unions.  And very, very anti-WalMart.

EarlCat

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Re: wal-mart and unions
« Reply #24 on: August 04, 2008, 12:30:02 PM »
Are you saying that Walmart's practice of locking in employees and threatening them if they attempt to leave (even when in need of medical attention) is not exploitative?

This is already illegal, but nice job moving the goal-posts.

EarlCat

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Re: wal-mart and unions
« Reply #25 on: August 04, 2008, 12:30:51 PM »
oil speculators are driving oil prices into the stratosphere.

el oh el


EarlCat

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Re: wal-mart and unions
« Reply #26 on: August 04, 2008, 12:48:03 PM »
First of all, walmart is the largest single employer in the US. That means that there are more walmart jobs than jobs of any other kind, that is why we pick on walmart. That means that without unions the employees have absolutely no power to negotiate wages. Just as all the conservatives have said, if you work for walmart and tell your boss you want $0.50 extra per hour, they'll laugh at you or fire you.

If your labor is worth at least another $.50, someone will pay it. 
 
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Second of all, labor is not a resource like other things. If you have an ounce of gold and someone offers you a price you don't like, you can hold on it it and wait for a better price. If someone offers you a bad job with no health care, eventually you are FORCED to accept it--you have to pay for all those bigmacs somehow.

How is it you're "forced" to sell your skills at a price you don't like, but not your gold.  Both would be sufficient for purchasing all those big macs. 

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But the truth of the situation is that walmart is already running with as few employees as they believe they can and still make money.  Increasing labor costs (or making them reflect the real cost on society) is not going to cause massive layoffs at walmart.

Walmart is running with as few employees as they believe they can AT CURRENT WAGES and still MAXIMIZE THEIR RETURN.  Many jobs at Wal-Mart could be automated, but it's likely cheaper to hire a human being at current wages.  If a WalMart associate costs $10/hr to employ, and a machine that can do the same task costs $11/hr to operate, the machine will take the associate's place if the associate starts to cost $12/hr.

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And neither will it hurt the company, which does not operate at slim margins, it is wildly profitable.

WalMart's profits come from big volume, not big margins.  Their entire business plan is based on razor thin margins.

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As for the taxes issue, MY taxes aren't going up, and, likely, neither are yours, Earlcat.

You think Obama's lying when he promises to raise taxes?

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And yes, I do have a problem with walmart's not paying its fair share of the tax burdon.

What, exactly, is their "fair share" and who was anointed to determine it?

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Rather than trying to close the tax loopholes that they are sooo good at creating, I'm asking my congress person to ask them to shoulder it in a different way, by making it easier to unionize and force them to pay the REAL costs of labor.

What makes union wages "real"??  If I can buy your service elsewhere for cheaper than you want to sell it, am I not paying the real cost?

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If you have a problem with your taxes going up, I suggest you take that up with your congress person, you might mention corporate loop holes.

I wrote one for 8th grade civics class, and an intern sent me back a nice form-letter.  Good plan.

Maddie

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Re: wal-mart and unions
« Reply #27 on: August 04, 2008, 01:18:05 PM »
Are you saying that Walmart's practice of locking in employees and threatening them if they attempt to leave (even when in need of medical attention) is not exploitative?

This is already illegal, but nice job moving the goal-posts.

It is illegal, but it still happens, and the fact that it still happens at one of our nation's largest employers when some of the biggest tragedies in labor history happened as a result of lock-ins is horrifying to say the least.  My home town is basically dominated by a Walmart.  It is definitely the largest employer in my town.  Several high school classmates of mine work there and had to take an anti-union indoctrination course, in addition to taking various forms of abuse including being forced to work off the clock.  And as someone else mentioned, quitting and getting another job is just not always an option.  Small businesses close up in towns dominated by Walmarts, and in this economy quitting a job that sucks is no guarantee you will be able to find another one.  I am usually opposed to anecdotal evidence, but based on the plethora of lawsuits surrounding Walmart for these and other tactics, I do not believe it is entirely anecdotal.

Re: wal-mart and unions
« Reply #28 on: August 04, 2008, 01:18:59 PM »
Are you saying that Walmart's practice of locking in employees and threatening them if they attempt to leave (even when in need of medical attention) is not exploitative?

This is already illegal, but nice job moving the goal-posts.


How is that "moving the goalposts?"  My original post said that I believe Walmart's practices are exploitative.  Another poster said they weren't and I linked to an article.  The above point wasn't directed to you, but way to personalize the argument.

In any event, has this practice been deemed illegal in all states?  Last I read, it was legal in some states, provided there is a fire exit.  Of course, the problem came from the fact that these people were told that if they used that exit and there was no fire, they'd be fired (even if it was an emergency).


EarlCat

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Re: wal-mart and unions
« Reply #29 on: August 04, 2008, 04:54:42 PM »
How is that "moving the goalposts?"  My original post said that I believe Walmart's practices are exploitative.  Another poster said they weren't and I linked to an article.  The above point wasn't directed to you, but way to personalize the argument.

The discussion so far had been about unionizing Wal-Mart and the effect of increasing their employees' wages.  One might argue that WalMart's wages are exploitative (and thus require union intervention), but union negotiations are irrelevant when talking about activity that is already illegal.  And how was I personalizing the argument?  I didn't call you names or talk about your mother.

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In any event, has this practice been deemed illegal in all states?  Last I read, it was legal in some states, provided there is a fire exit.  Of course, the problem came from the fact that these people were told that if they used that exit and there was no fire, they'd be fired (even if it was an emergency).

This is silly.  Why not simply fire anyone who walks out the unlocked front door?