September 12, 2005

True and Misleading

A lot of Wal-Mart criticism is just that -- both true and misleading. How about this response to Wal-Mart's three-day pay policy after Katrina:

Fergus, Ont. -- In rushing aid to Katrina's victims, says Margaret Wente, Wal-Mart is an outstanding example of corporate efficiency and generosity. We wonder whether Wal-Mart is taping pink slips to the bottles of water it's handing out, because four days after the storm hit, the company stopped paying its workers at 36 closed stores in the region.
That Wal-Mart is leaving some people in a hard place is fair criticism. It's the truth, but certainly not the whole truth, which is rather complex. Contrary to the implied message, Wal-Mart is not letting displaced employees starve, and (as far as I can tell) has not been letting people go, or dragging them along with no promise of future employment within the company. If you're an associate, and you cannot relocate to another area where Wal-Mart can find you a job, you can apply for up to $1000 in emergency assistance, if you can demonstrate need. That's 2.5 weeks of pay for somebody earning $10 an hour, 40 hour weeks. What's Wal-Mart's take on it's treatment of its associates? "Any displaced associate can report for work at any U.S. Wal-Mart store" A promise of a job, not a pink slip. Got that?

Here's more:

* Initially, more than 34,000 Wal-Mart associates were displaced by Hurricane Katrina. So far, the company has been able to contact 87 percent of the associates to verify that they are safe or have reported to work.

* Wal-Mart’s goal is to help associates get back on their feet and move forward with their lives. The Wal-Mart Emergency Information Line, established to answer associates questions and concerns, has fielded nearly 17,000 calls.

* Any displaced associate can report for work at any U.S. Wal-Mart store. So far, these associates are working in stores as far away as Alaska, California and Nevada, but most are in states near the disaster area such as Georgia, Texas, and Florida.

* Displaced associates are eligible for up to $1,000 from the Associate Disaster Relief Fund if their homes were flooded or destroyed. Cash assistance of nearly $4 million has already been provided to more than 6,100 associates.


Posted by Kevin on September, 12 2005 at 12:31 PM