December 7, 2004

Teachers Union President Just Makes Stuff Up About WM

The President of New York State United Teachers, Thomas Y. Hobart, doesn't want you to shop at Wal-Mart:

Wal-Mart, for example, continues to set new lows for employee working conditions and benefits.
Now, he just made this up, and pretended it was a fact. Any of his union's teachers should flunk him. Does he really have evidence for, or even sincerely believe, that conditions and benefits at Wal-Mart itself have gone to "new lows" from previous years? Does he understand how much better working at WM is compared to working at many mom and pop stores WM puts out of business? Or how much working conditions have improved, and continue to improve for the lowest wage earners, worldwide?

He continues:

Despite the pretty television ads, Wal-Mart workers still face tremendous difficulty getting health insurance. When they can get it, often it's far too expensive to be affordable. Monthly premiums for the limited number of Wal-Mart employees eligible for health insurance often run as high as $264 a month. Try paying those premiums on an $8-an-hour cashier's salary.
I agree it's hard for many to pay their portion of the premium, and sometimes a "tremendous difficulty"? But why are people going to work for WM knowing that they are underpaid? WM is not forcing people to work for them; they do not have draft power. They pay wages and benefits that people voluntarily take; that's what's really scary to Mr. Hobart... Or does Mr. Hobart think WM employees are stupid? All (OK, most!) WM employees, even part-timers, qualify for health "insurance" coverage through WM once they've been there a set amount of time.

As a union man, Mr. Hobart insists that health coverage be paid for by employers. But there's little economic sense in that! In fact, it's a good part of the reason why healthcare is so expensive today. If employers paid for housing, food, or entertainment directly, does anyone doubt that housing, food, and movie markets would look vastly different, as people tried to use all their "benefits"? Once people stop paying for things themselves, usage and then costs go up.

Posted by Kevin on December, 7 2004 at 12:20 PM