Wednesday, June 15, 2005

So Good For America

Here's why Free Market Capitalism Doesn't Work.

Over here in WV, a Wal-Mart that's been having a bit of trouble making lots of money has deciding to do what businesses that are having trouble making lots of money will do (read your Marx) when they can: cut labor costs.

That is, they'll do that unless labor has a way to stop them.

And, when there are no unions, and no labor laws, there is no way to stop them.

Wal-Mart officials in Cross Lanes told employees on Tuesday they have to start working practically any shift, any day they’re asked, even if they’ve built up years of seniority and can’t arrange child care.

Store management said the policy change is needed to keep enough staff at the busiest hours, but some employees said it appears to be an attempt to force out longer-term, higher-paid workers.

The workers, and the union, and pretty much everyone except the Wal-Mart officials, agree what's going on here is the Wal-Mart store is trying to drive out the higher-paid floor employees -- to make them quit by making their jobs impossible.

Wal-Mart Officials just say, very innocently, that they're only trying to make a profit here. Hey, what's the problem?

Want to figure out what the problem is? I aim you once again at Marx.

Or just read this:

This is something that is done throughout Wal-Mart stores,” Fogelman said. “The reality of retail is that our busiest times are evenings and weekends, so it only makes sense that we have higher staffing levels at those times.”

Union critics of the retailing giant, who have fought a long and unsuccessful battle to gain a foothold there, said it sounds like a new policy for the company and added that it will set a bad precedent for other retailers.

“This is a chilling new direction for Wal-Mart,” said Chris Kofinis, communications adviser for Wake Up Wal-Mart, a promotional campaign funded by the United Food and Commercial Workers union. “It shows that when you work at Wal-Mart, you can neither afford a decent standard of life or even have a life.”

Kofinis said researchers at Wake Up Wal-Mart had not heard of open-availability rules at Wal-Marts before. The tremendous influence Wal-Mart wields among retailers means that others may have to start considering following suit, he said.

“At a union employer, this kind of work scheduling would not be possible,” Kofinis said.

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