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Saturday, September 12, 2009

Sam Walton, With the Skin of Flint 

Hat-tip: C.D. Our thanks for this piece of memory about the founder of Wal-Mart, via BoingBoing:
Around the time that the young Sam Walton opened his first stores, John Kennedy redeemed a presidential campaign promise by persuading Congress to extend the minimum wage to retail workers, who had until then not been covered by the law. Congress granted an exclusion, however, to small businesses with annual sales beneath $1 million -- a figure that in 1965 it lowered to $250,000.

Walton was furious. The mechanization of agriculture had finally reached the backwaters of the Ozark Plateau, where he was opening one store after another. The men and women who had formerly worked on small farms suddenly found themselves redundant, and he could scoop them up for a song, as little as 50 cents an hour. Now the goddamn federal government was telling him he had to pay his workers the $1.15 hourly minimum. Walton's response was to divide up his stores into individual companies whose revenues did not exceed the $250,000 threshold. Eventually, though, a federal court ruled that this was simply a scheme to avoid paying the minimum wage, and he was ordered to pay his workers the accumulated sums he owed them, plus a double-time penalty thrown in for good measure.

Wal-Mart cut the checks, but Walton also summoned the employees at a major cluster of his stores to a meeting. "I'll fire anyone who cashes the check," he told them.


Friday, September 04, 2009

Wal-Mart, Dark Over-Lords of the Universe 

Hat-tip: Chris Kromm and the Institute for Southern Studies:
Rank of Wal-Mart among the largest private employers in the U.S.: 1

Rank of Wal-Mart among the world's largest retailers: 1 [source: same as above]

Profit made by Wal-Mart last year alone: $13 billion

Amount Wal-Mart earns in profit every minute: $34,880

Accumulated wealth of the Walton family that owns Wal-Mart: $158.4 billion

Rank of the Waltons among the world's richest families: 1 [source: ibid.]

Number of U.S. residents who visit Wal-Mart each week: 150 million [source: ibid.]

Number of workers Wal-Mart employs in the U.S.: 1.4 million [source: ibid.]

Percent of Wal-Mart's U.S. employees who do not have health insurance coverage through the company: 52

Average percentage of employees at large U.S. companies who are covered by company health insurance plans: 65 [source: ibid.]

Percent of Costco's employees who receive health insurance through the company: 85

Percent of their income average full-time Wal-Mart employees pay for the company's least expensive insurance plan: 20 [source: ibid.]

As of 2005, percent of Wal-Mart employees who got assistance from Medicaid, a public insurance program for the poor: 5

National average among employers: 4 percent [source: ibid.]

As of 2005, percent of Wal-Mart workers' children who were on Medicaid: 27 [source: ibid.]

National average among employers: 22 percent [source: ibid.]

Number of petition cards being distributed by a coalition of Wal-Mart workers, community leaders and activists that say, "I think Wal-mart should stop forcing taxpayers to cover its workers' health care": 50,000

Date on which a coalition of labor, environmental and community groups launched an initiative to hold Wal-Mart accountable for how it treats workers: 9/1/2009

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Monday, August 11, 2008

Wal-Mart Buys In On N.C. State Government 

Wal-Mart Corp., which has heretofore been content to concentrate on national politics, warning its store managers to warn its workers that Obama is the Antichrist, has evidently decided that it needs also to buy favor among a few state legislators too, just to be on the safe side.

The company's PAC has given some $54,000 so far this election cycle to N.C. politicians. A partial list:
* Hugh Holliman, D, Lexington, $1,000
* Nelson Cole, D, Reidsville, $500
* Harold Brubaker, R, Asheboro, $250
* Jerry Tillman, R, Archdale, $1,000
* Kay Hagan, D, Greensboro, $250
* Phil Berger, R, Eden, $500
* Roy Cooper, D, attorney general candidate, $1,000
* Janey Cowell, D, state treasurer candidate, $500
* Pat McCrory, R, candidate for governor, $3,500

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Friday, August 01, 2008

Wal-Mart Corp. Fears the Scary Black Man 

Wal-Mart, the biggest corporation in this particular universe or in any other, has been caught threatening its store managers that if they know what’s best for them, they’d better be putting pressure on their store workers to vote against Barack Obama this fall, or else workers will be unionizing and demanding better wages and – gasp! – benefits, and then Wal-Mart will be forced to start firing people, because treating employees fairly can lead to all sorts of negative consequences and is – after all – unamerican in the extreme, which is what Barack Obama and the Democrats are – unamerican and extreme – and Wal-Mart is scared – SCARED, we said – enough to order (make that ... “suggest”) that its 400 million employees nationwide better think twice about voting Democratic this fall.

Wal-Mart may even be forced to give an even larger portion of its profits to John McCain and his running mates on the Republican Party ticket.

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