Monday, November 21, 2005

Wal-Mart Bashing

Wal-Mart sells itself as the all-American company, but it violates American family values every single day. Wal-Mart refuses to sell magazines, books, or CDs that it believes will offend the values of average Americans. But what Wal-Mart's leaders can't seem to grasp is that average Americans are offended by its shameful tactics to boost profits at the expense of the families of hard-working men and women.

I’m fairly certain that the only thing that the average American wants out of Wal-mart is cheap toilet paper. What Mr. Kennedy fails to grasp is that when greedy American companies make a profit some hard-working American man or woman gets a job so that they can demonstrate that they are hard-working.
This is not just a Congressional fight. The American people are also demanding accountability. Wal-Mart has forced employees to work overtime without pay.

Forcing non-exempt employees to work without overtime is illegal and specific stores have been found guilty of the practice, but insinuating that it is a sanctioned corporate practice is dishonest.
They have hired professional union busters to keep employees from having a voice at work.

I can’t blame Wal-Mart for busting unions when the government provides so many protections to unions when they are at the negotiation table. After seeing what unions have done to the airlines, Delphi, GM and essentially the entire US manufacturing sector, why would anyone want unions in their shop?
They have refused to provide affordable health care, while instructing workers to apply for Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program.

Wal-Mart offers health insurance to both it’s full time and part time workers; something that most retailers don’t do. What exactly does Mr. Kennedy mean by affordable health care? When you can get coverage at $11/month the price barrier isn’t exactly the issue. Wal-Mart denies Mr. Kennedy’s accusation that they encourage people to apply for federal aid, making the accusation without any evidence is incredibly irresponsible.
They have refused to promote women and people of color. They have violated child labor laws by requiring kids to use dangerous equipment. And they have used predatory pricing practices to put small companies out of business.

Wal-Mart has never been found guilty of any of these practices. And exactly how many children does Wal-Mart have working for them, and exactly what dangerous equipment are they operating?
Surely, the largest company in the world, which made more than $10 billion in profits last year, can do better by its workers, better by our communities, and better for the American taxpayer.
Wal-Mart's founder, Sam Walton, was known for creating the 10 Commandments of Leadership. Well, today I challenge Wal-Mart to abide by the Ten Commandments of Good Corporate Citizenship.

Thou shalt pay living wages.

I’m still waiting for someone, anyone to tell me what a living wage is.
Thou shalt provide affordable health care.
Thou shalt pay overtime.
Thou shalt not bust unions.
Thou shalt pay and promote women and men equally.
Thou shalt not discriminate against people of color.
Thou shalt not support sweatshops.

Similarly, a definition of a sweatshop would be nice.
Thou shalt not violate child labor laws.

What child labor law has been violated?
Thou shalt provide safe working conditions.
Thou shalt not dump toxic waste.

What manufacturing process is causing all of this toxic waste that they are dumping?
Companies that abide by these commandments succeed. One of Wal-Mart's chief competitors, Costco, is a shining example of good corporate citizenship. Its average pay is 76 percent higher than Wal-Mart's, and its employees have health insurance, dental, and retirement benefits. Yet it is Costco, not Wal-Mart, that has delivered higher returns to shareholders over the past decade.

Costco’s business model is different than Wal-Mart’s. And Costco is a club, where the majority of Wal-Mart’s stores are not.
Sam Walton was right when he said that a company's success depends on its values. And Wal-Mart's current CEO, H. Lee Scott, was right two weeks ago when he called for an increase in the minimum wage even though his only reason for supporting it was so that Wal-Mart's minimum wage customers could buy more Wal-Mart products.

Mr. Kennedy is way off here, they don’t want minimum wage increased so that people can buy more of it’s products, they want an increase to damage it’s competitors.
We are working hard in Congress to make the Wal-Marts of the world accountable to workers, families and communities. We have introduced legislation to expose Wal-Mart's practice of dumping responsibility for health care for its employers on the American taxpayer. We have introduced the Employee Free Choice Act to give workers a voice at work and to stop anti-union intimidation tactics. We continue to fight for an increase in the minimum wage, to ensure that no one who works for a living lives in poverty. We have sponsored legislation to ensure equal pay for men and women. And we are increasing penalties against companies with dangerous working conditions.

More wealth distribution and socialism in sheep’s clothing, should we expect anything different from this career politician?
The time has come to demand more than low prices from America’s largest employer.

No one is going to thank Mr. Kennedy for raising prices and increasing unemployment, it amazes me that Democrats, who are perfectly willing to tell us how greedy American corporations are, won’t acknowledge that the cost of these programs aren’t born by greedy corporations but by their employees and customers.

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