Saturday, August 06, 2005

Please don't shop at Wal-Mart's - part 5

Recently I came into possession of a booklet called Wal-Mart Watch: Low Prices At What Cost? You can download a copy from the website Walmart Watch - a site definitely worth exploring.

Here are some just a few of the facts I learned:

* Year after year, Wal-Mart's low pay and meager employee benefits force tens of thousands of employees to resort to Medicaid, food stamps, and housing assistance. Call it the "Wal-Mart Tax". And it costs you $1.5 billion in federal tax dollars every year.

* Wal-Mart brags about its employee health care plan. Their ads claim that "Associate premiums begin at less that $40 a month." What they don't tell you is that the deductible is $1,000. That's right, a $1,000 health insurance deductible for sales clerks who, on average, make less than $14,000 per year. No wonder so many Wal-Mart employees have to apply for public health assistance.

* The $1.5 billion Wal-Mart tax doesn't even include state tax dollars spent on Medicaid, food stamps, and housing assistance. And it doesn't include the millions of dollars that communities pay every year to provide new roads, electricity, sewer, and water lines for Wal-Mart stores. The company has a $10 billion annual profit, but won't even build the driveways to its stores.

* Costco pays its workers 65 percent more than Wal-Mart and 33 percent more than Sam's Club, yet earns more profits per employee.

* Wal-Mart's 61,000 suppliers face constant pressure to lower costs every year which has resulted in many suppliers moving good-paying American jobs overseas to low-wage/low-regulation countries such as China, Bangladesh and India.

* Wal-Mart CEO H. Lee Scott received $17.5 million in 2004, nearly twice the average of $9.6 million for leading CEOs.

* Wal-Mart has forced employees to continue working after they have clocked out.

* Wal-Mart is fiercely anti-worker and has an elaborate anti-union "hit squad" ready to dispatch at the first sign of worker discontent.

* Exposes of labor abuses in Wal-Mart's supplier factories reveal child labor abuses, pay as low as 3 cents an hour, long hours without overtime, health and safety hazards, and physical and verbal assaults on workers.

* Wal-Mart is a major polluter that frequently is accused of violating environmental laws.

There's so much more. Please realize that when you shop at Wal-Mart's or Sam's, you are supporting these unethical practices.

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