An American labor rights group filed a class-action lawsuit yesterday against Wal-Mart Stores Inc., alleging that suppliers in five countries violated workers' rights, including denying a minimum wage, requiring overtime and punishing union activity.
The suit, filed in California Superior Court in Los Angeles, accuses Wal-Mart of failing to enforce its standards for suppliers and, in some cases, observe local labor laws in China, Bangladesh, Swaziland, Nicaragua and Indonesia.
I’m not familiar with the laws involved, but I don’t understand how a company can be responsible for enforcing the compliance of its business partners. Most companies I know have a difficult time keeping track of everything in their own shop.
The suit is being filed in California, so anything is possible. However, that isn’t what got me blogging.
The International Labor Rights Fund, a District-based advocacy group, filed the suit on behalf of 15 foreign workers who claimed they were subjected to illegal working conditions, and four California grocery employees who claimed that Wal-Mart's cost-cutting measures resulted in lower wages and benefits.
The four California plaintiffs are employees of unionized grocery chains, such as Ralphs and Safeway Inc., that have cut wages and benefits to better compete with Wal-Mart. All four are members of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union, which is trying to organize Wal-Mart's 1.2 million U.S. employees.
These guys are suing Wal-Mart because their employer doesn’t pay them enough? Let’s put aside the fact that they are union employees and are probably over paid anyway, under what twisted logic is this a tort? Perhaps I should sue KPMG since the only way that we can compete with them is by offering our services at a lower cost and therefore I get paid less.
I hate to break it to these guys, but you do not have a right to make whatever you want, when companies compete sometimes workers get squeezed. But I can tell you that if they were given the real choice making a bit less money and having your employer go out of business the choice would be easy.
I don’t understand how Wal-Mart gets a bum rap for providing products that people want at a low cost. Isn’t the left up in arms about Big Oil charging too much? Oh yeah, it’s not the money that matters, but the success. Being successful is immoral and therefore must be punished.