Wal Mart announced that it will be raising the lowest paid employees to 9 dollars per hour. One might think, but this would be wrong, that they are reacting to all the criticism that they get by making billions of dollars in profits while many of their employees have to resort to the food stamp program and other public welfare benefits to survive.
Wal Mart specifically said that the reason they are raising the minimum is to give their employees a better opportunity to stay at Wal Mart for a career rather than just a temporary job that gets them through a few months. The problem is called turnover. Wal Mart, unfortunately, didn’t suddenly get deeply concerned about the well being of its employees. All smart business people know that turnover costs money. You have to be constantly finding people to replace those leaving, then the new people must be trained, monitored and shown the mistakes they are making, plus mistakes cost money, too.
If a business can retain employees, there are significant savings. A good guess would be that upper management looked at the costs of constantly replacing employees and decided it was cheaper to pay people to stick around longer than it would be to constantly be replacing and retraining people. This is not a brilliant conclusion, nor a humane one. Its just business.
There are many people who believe that Wal Mart is on a losing trajectory, that its ugly stores with an ugly shopping experience will wear thin as people buy more online and switch to stores like Target that at least have some minimal amenities rather than giving the air of walking through a warehouse, one that is crowded with poor people on top of that.
Face it, who goes to Wal Mart? The people who believe they can’t afford to go anywhere else, those who don’t have other stores available because they live in rural areas plus moms and dad who have lots of kids at home and not enough money to buy what they need, so they settle for inferior goods, always trying to save money, when, in fact, a lot of the goods are so inferior they’ll be back in a few weeks or months replacing what they just bought.
None of this is to say that Wal Mart serves no purpose or that it doesn’t sell some things of both quality and value, but that is the exception for most of what most people need. A true bargain consists of price and quality, but Wal Mart allows, or helps, people to fill their houses and apartments with middle economic class type goods even when they are on a tight budget. People appreciate that, but will the flee as if from a forest fire at the earliest opportunity? Many will.
Wal Mart is the place to go if you want to “save money” on items of junky quality or if you want to buy stuff you don’t need at a lower price.
Does anyone care if the employees are treated terribly? Most of the people shopping at Wal Mart don’t have much money themselves, so they would not likely have much sympathy for others in the same boat.
How can it be that the stockholders of Wal Mart take in billions while the employees don’t make enough to survive? Wal Mart has a winning formula, alright: they win, employees lose. What does it mean, in 2015, for people to be working full time and yet not have enough money to support themselves or their families? Is that not a form of servitude, of slavery by another name?
Doug Terry, 2.20.15