Steve Hutchison (foomf) wrote,
Steve Hutchison

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Wal-Mart does it again...

From the New York Times, a leaked copy of an internal memo about benefits:

Pitifully enough, there are many, many people who would be glad to get even that much... but the contempt shown in this memo for the people who work there is frightening ... because it's typical of all 'big' businesses now.

Edit: For iceraver... This is not aimed at Wal-Mart as a 'person' because it's not a person, it's a giant corporation, and the legal fiction that provides giant corporations with the same rights as a human is the biggest cause of human-originated suffering in the world, right now. Yes, corporations have taken over from Religion as the source of most evil. We've had this conversation at other times, when you've been much more, or much less, happy with the company, and a good part of my opinion of the place has been informed by the things you've gone through.

This is aimed at the board of directors (who are almost all Sam Walton's over-rich, under-responsible, very highly Entitlement Minded kids and relatives.) This is aimed at the corporate culture, which is detailed very well in the memo. They are of two minds, and one goal, and it shows.

In fact, the contents of the memo are striking. There is an almost-shamefaced attempt to justify continuing to offer better benefits and to make things really work better for the people who work there... and yet, there's the utterly heartless, venial statement that it's too difficult and expensive to actually improve the health of the associates who are sick, that it's better to 'attract and retain healthy employees'... It's a very short step from that to 'fire unhealthy employees, don't hire anyone who has any risk of illness'... and none of this even remotely addresses the fact that the incipient cause (that is, the trigger) for many illnesses is the work environment itself.
I also feel nothing but contempt for the idea that they want to REDUCE the number of people who are using their health insurance to provide insurance for their spouses... because everyone knows the spouses provide no benefit whatsoever to the company.

The DE-FACTO corporate culture at Wal-Mart is one that values making money for the corporation first, second, and third. A distant fourth, providing the best merchandise for the best price, drives the rest of the culture. The PUBLISHED corporate values derive from this fourth, but the people in the management positions, salaried or hourly, can readily see that the ones who get rewarded will ALWAYS meet the first three values first, even at the expense of the associates. This informs their practices.

Wal-Mart's upper management don't actually _care_ about the people who work for them, nor about the community, and the many, many people who work at Wal-Mart who DO care about their friends, neighbors, and their place in the community have to fight a too-often losing battle against the apathy of the rest of the workers, and the active dis-interest of the board and their selected upper-management, in doing anything that doesn't further inflate the short-term bottom line. This was something that was protested during the 80s and 90s, when Wal-Mart would come into a small community and destroy the independent businesses in the city cores by undercutting the locals, then raise their prices afterwards.

This is why we, the people living in the Hillsboro, Oregon area, have blocked Wal-Mart from opening a MEGA-BLOK store in the community. They would have been welcome in any number of locations in the area - hell, we have well-prepared, well-situated, empty sites with all the parking, sewer, and power requirements already in place, thanks to the Dot-Bust. They could have chosen a number of places within a mile of their original site choice (in the middle of a residential zone), and been eagerly welcomed by everyone except their competition. They treated the planning commission with rudeness and contempt (well, the choice of a Johnny Bravo clone as their lawyer did NOT help, as he condescended to, flirted inappropriately with, and insulted, the people who he needed on his side) and assumed they could buy their way past any objections. The fact that we have useful laws here in Oregon that provide land-use planning with real power wasn't anticipated, nor that they couldn't buy the commission. This says bad things about how certain parts of Wal-Mart operate

Anyway. I don't go there because there isn't one close enough to offset the cost of travel. I also don't like buying things made by real or virtual slave labor and out-sourced from other countries, but it's almost impossible to find any consumer goods anywhere in the world nowadays that don't fit in that category. I've been, when visiting my Mom, and found that there was a quality-vs-cost tradeoff, but that I could get decent stuff there, and that it would be a good value. The associates were uniformly polite (more so than at Target usually) but the ones I dealt with weren't quite numerate, and the greeters were fine, if a bit weird. There was a tendency (similar to what I've seen at Fry's) to watch everyone there with the overt, continual suspicion that they were thieves, and that makes me want to act suspicious just because it pisses me off, but in general, as stores go, it wasn't bad. It wasn't as good as the local Bi-Mart, which is employee-owned.

Oregon IS one of the states where it was proven that the management was pressuring people to work off the clock, and that was blamed on some immediate supervisors, but the courts and the state found a pattern that indicated it was more pervasive than one or two immediate supervisors. It was very good to hear from iceraver how they really do NOT tolerate that in the places he's worked, to the point that they go out of the way to find it and stop it.

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