Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
DOUBLE YOUR DONATION!
We don’t run corporate ads. We don’t shake our readers down for money every month or every quarter like some other sites out there. We provide our site for free to all, but the bandwidth we pay to do so doesn’t come cheap. A generous donor is matching all donations of $100 or more! So please donate now to double your punch!
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Wal-Mart Caught Stealing

Despite all the conjecture and second-guessing, there’s no way to be certain that Iraq and Afghanistan would have turned out much differently had U.S. intelligence been more accurate, had Congress been given more information, had the media been more aggressive, or had Al Gore, instead of George Bush, been seated in the White House on that fateful day in September.  We assume it would, but we can’t be certain.

The same can be said of the Wall Street debacle.  We can speculate all we like as to what might have happened had more “smart” people been doing their jobs and paying attention to the Big Picture, but there’s no way to know for certain what, if anything, would have been done differently to prevent the catastrophe.

History has shown that people in positions of authority—whether in politics or commerce—don’t always act on the evidence.  Sometimes they postpone acting until it’s too late; sometimes they succumb to popular opinion; sometimes they dispute or overrule or nit-pick or simply ignore the so-called “evidence.”  It happens.

But there’s one thing we can be absolutely certain of.  Had the employees of Wal-Mart been represented by a labor union, the company wouldn’t be forced to pay $640 million in back wages to employees who were cheated out of that money.  It never would have happened.  Period.

Things in the workplace fall through the cracks all the time; they get dismissed, put off, overlooked, rescheduled, piled up, mishandled, etc..  But in a union shop, no one—and that means no one—fails to get paid.  You can ask union people to work harder, to work safer, to work quicker; you can ask them pretty much anything, and they’ll do it.  Just don’t ask them to work for free.

Predictably, even though Wal-Mart clearly got caught with its hand in the cookie jar (the settlement was the result of 63 class-action lawsuits), the company has tried to put a happy face on it, claiming that the whole thing was rather “complicated,” and that the incidents in question occurred “a long time ago” and are in no way indicative what the company stands for today.

An employer trying to cut corners by cheating workers out of their pay isn’t really that “complicated” a concept to grasp.  It’s pretty basic, actually.  Moreover, it’s a form of what is commonly known as “theft.”  And Wal-Mart did it knowingly and for the basest of reasons: they wanted to save money, and thought they could do it without getting caught.  But they got caught.  That’s why they’re paying $640 million.

Of course, the biggest shocker in all this is the fact that, despite Wal-Mart’s history of stinginess and deceit, the company’s employees are still independent.  The world’s largest retailer, with over 1.4 million employees, remains immaculately non-union (at least in the U.S.).  Given that labor unions, across-the-board, offer superior wages, benefits, and working conditions, that circumstance is absolutely astonishing.  Over 4,000 stores in the U.S., and not one of them is unionized?  That is mind-boggling.

It’s also a source of tension.  In truth, the AFL-CIO is split on how to regard Wal-Mart’s workforce, whom they’ve tried unsuccessfully to recruit for decades.  To some union leaders, Wal-Mart employees are still seen as sorry, over-burdened and underpaid folks, too intimidated and frightened to go about joining a labor union, and condemned to suffer as a consequence.

Other union leaders take a less generous view.  After years of futile organizing drives, they’ve come to regard Wal-Marters as ignoramuses and faux-individualists.  They see them as stubborn, gullible and vain—a bunch of company lackeys who deserve every crappy thing that happens to them.  If these people want the benefits of a union contract, then let ‘em grow a pair, and join a union.  Short of that, who gives a rat’s ass what happens to them?  Harsh as it sounds, that’s how they see it.

After all, look at the facts.  If a company spends millions of dollars trying to keep the union out, and preaches to its employees that unions are bad—that they’re unnecessary, that they’re a hindrance, that a union wouldn’t help them—and then turns around and steals wages from the very people who are loyal to that company and who can barely make a living on the wages they’re already being paid, what does that tell us?

Corporations cheat all the time.  They cheat the competition by engaging in illegal or unethical business practices, they cheat the public through false advertising and poor quality, and they cheat Uncle Sam by not paying their fair share of taxes.  The public has become inured to it

But when a corporation steals from its own people—especially ones as fiercely loyal as Wal-Mart employees—doesn’t that cross the line?  Doesn’t that totally blow their minds?  What’s it going to take for these Wal-Marters to realize they’re being exploited?

DAVID MACARAY, a Los Angeles playwright (“Borneo Bob,” “Larva Boy”) and writer, was a former labor union rep.  He can be reached at dmacaray@earthlink.net

 

 

 

 

More articles by:

David Macaray is a playwright and author. His newest book is How To Win Friends and Avoid Sacred Cows.  He can be reached at dmacaray@gmail.com

October 22, 2018
David Mattson
Basket of Deplorables Revisited: Grizzly Bears at the Mercy of Wyoming
Michelle Renee Matisons
Hurricane War Zone Further Immiserates Florida Panhandle, Panama City
Tom Gill
A Storm is Brewing in Europe: Italy and Its Public Finances Are at the Center of It
Christopher Brauchli
The Liars’ Bench
Gary Leupp
Will Trump Split the World by Endorsing a Bold-Faced Lie?
Michael Howard
The New York Times’ Animal Cruelty Fetish
Alice Slater
Time Out for Nukes!
Geoff Dutton
Yes, Virginia, There are Conspiracies—I Think
Daniel Warner
Davos in the Desert: To Attend or Not, That is Not the Question
Priti Gulati Cox – Stan Cox
Mothers of Exiles: For Many, the Child-Separation Ordeal May Never End
Manuel E. Yepe
Pence v. China: Cold War 2.0 May Have Just Begun
Raouf Halaby
Of Pith Helmets and Sartorial Colonialism
Dan Carey
Aspirational Goals  
Wim Laven
Intentional or Incompetence—Voter Suppression Where We Live
Weekend Edition
October 19, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Jason Hirthler
The Pieties of the Liberal Class
Jeffrey St. Clair
A Day in My Life at CounterPunch
Paul Street
“Male Energy,” Authoritarian Whiteness and Creeping Fascism in the Age of Trump
Nick Pemberton
Reflections on Chomsky’s Voting Strategy: Why The Democratic Party Can’t Be Saved
John Davis
The Last History of the United States
Yigal Bronner
The Road to Khan al-Akhmar
Robert Hunziker
The Negan Syndrome
Andrew Levine
Democrats Ahead: Progressives Beware
Rannie Amiri
There is No “Proxy War” in Yemen
David Rosen
America’s Lost Souls: the 21st Century Lumpen-Proletariat?
Joseph Natoli
The Age of Misrepresentations
Ron Jacobs
History Is Not Kind
John Laforge
White House Radiation: Weakened Regulations Would Save Industry Billions
Ramzy Baroud
The UN ‘Sheriff’: Nikki Haley Elevated Israel, Damaged US Standing
Robert Fantina
Trump, Human Rights and the Middle East
Anthony Pahnke – Jim Goodman
NAFTA 2.0 Will Help Corporations More Than Farmers
Jill Richardson
Identity Crisis: Elizabeth Warren’s Claims Cherokee Heritage
Sam Husseini
The Most Strategic Midterm Race: Elder Challenges Hoyer
Maria Foscarinis – John Tharp
The Criminalization of Homelessness
Robert Fisk
The Story of the Armenian Legion: a Dark Tale of Anger and Revenge
Jacques R. Pauwels
Dinner With Marx in the House of the Swan
Dave Lindorff
US ‘Outrage’ over Slaying of US Residents Depends on the Nation Responsible
Ricardo Vaz
How Many Yemenis is a DC Pundit Worth?
Elliot Sperber
Build More Gardens, Phase out Cars
Chris Gilbert
In the Wake of Nepal’s Incomplete Revolution: Dispatch by a Far-Flung Bolivarian 
Muhammad Othman
Let Us Bray
Gerry Brown
Are Chinese Municipal $6 Trillion (40 Trillion Yuan) Hidden Debts Posing Titanic Risks?
Rev. William Alberts
Judge Kavanaugh’s Defenders Doth Protest Too Much
Ralph Nader
Unmasking Phony Values Campaigns by the Corporatists
Victor Grossman
A Big Rally and a Bavarian Vote
James Bovard
Groped at the Airport: Congress Must End TSA’s Sexual Assaults on Women
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail