January 24, 2005

Ithaca Wants WM to Pay "Living Wage"

Activists in Ithaca want Wal-Mart to pay a living wage of $8.44 an hour plus health insurance. Wal-mart insists its wages are competitive with other retailers in the area. Somehow, the activists think they're making progress, when in reality they are hugely misguided...

Rock-bottom starting salary at the Ithaca store is $6.50 per hour, although that level is reserved for people who come with little or no experience, manager Dave Jacobson said....

"I can tell you that many of the folks in a store will probably be close to the $8 range," Masten said.

Health insurance deductibles range from $300 to $1,000, Masten said. At a $1,000 deductible, a single worker can buy insurance for about $40 per month, or about $155 per month for a family plan....

"We tried to impress on them the importance of the living wage concept," said Living Wage Coalition organizer Carl Feuer.

Feuer's group is calling on Wal-Mart to pay a living wage, chiding the corporate giant as "a company that can afford to do better."

Coalition fliers cite academic studies showing that nationwide, the firm's average wage for full-time cashiers is $13,883, and $15,537 for full-time sales associates. Feuer points out that a company which made $9 billion in 2003 can afford to pay a living wage and should do so.

"They do pay higher starting wages in other places," Feuer said, citing Secaucus, N.J., where one store pays a base wage of $9 per hour. Feuer wonders why Ithaca, with its high cost of living, doesn't draw a higher starting rate.

Jacobson said the company did a wage survey of other Ithaca-area retailers, and found that the $6.50 base wage stacked up well -- higher, mostly -- than the competition.

Feuer must be either an incredibly dishonest person, or does not understand actual economic conditions elsewhere. Ithaca does not have anywhere near the cost of living as Secaucus. In Ithaca, NY one can find several four bedroom single-family homes for around $150K. In Secaucus, NJ the same home will cost you $400K.

Check yourself at realtor.com.

Posted by Kevin at 11:07 AM

January 20, 2005

Community News

Upper Midleft notes the uncanny similarity in many of the Wal-Mart press releases in the "Community Impact" section of walmartfacts.com:

SAN DIEGO, CA With a focus on new jobs, charitable support and every day low prices, three Wal-Mart stores in San Diego County celebrated grand openings today, May 19.

BROOKINGS, S.D., Oct. 18, 2004 - With a focus on new jobs, charitable support, and every day low prices, the newly relocated Wal-Mart Supercenter in Brookings, located at 2421 6th St., will celebrate its grand opening at 7:30 a.m., Wednesday, Oct. 27. Doors will open at 8 a.m.

BRADENTON, Fla., July 14, 2004 - With a focus on new jobs, charitable support, and every day low prices, the Wal-Mart Supercenter in Bradenton will celebrate its grand opening 6:50 a.m., Wednesday, July 21. Doors will open at 7:30 a.m. The store is located at 6225 East State Road 64.

It goes on. And on. And on.

Try it yourself...

Posted by Kevin at 10:13 AM

November 14, 2004

Wal-Mart Gift Registry Kiosk's Offer Access to the Internet's Operation Dear Abby

*Updated 3x*

However one may personally feel about the U.S. led war in Iraq, for those not already aware of it and whom are inclined to do so, anyone may use Operation Dear Abby to send an e-mail to *AnyServiceMember* (i.e., generally speaking) of each of the five branches of the U.S. military (one branch at a time, depending on which one you may select) and, as I understand it anyway, whether they may be serving in Iraq or elsewhere, including here within the U.S.A. and, also includes those whom have been injured and hospitalized of course (note that message text is limited to only 1000 characters, including spaces).

What Does this Have to do with WalMart, You Ask?

Due to an associates suggestion about whether the company could help out in making Operation Dear Abby accessible to those whom may lack Internet access, in rather short order Wal-Mart made:

[...] it possible for customers to access operationdearabby.net through the gift registry kiosk. In its first seven days it was available, 123,467 messages had been sent through the gift registry.


Read about it in full via the Wal-Mart Foundation Website, here.

For additional information concerning Operation Dear Abby, read the following items:

What More Can I Do to Support Our Troops?

By the way and, most importantly, if you find yourself wondering what *more* you could do along these same or, even better, other lines in supporting our troops and their families, click here for additional information.

In addition, The Art of the Blog has posted a blog post with an ever growing and updated compilation of links to all sorts of resources they have come across from one place or another, here [via Verns blog, here].

In fact I particularly like the link for the Website set up for people have a way to Send Pizza to our Troops (yet while I don't mean to give into cynical doubts at all, am just hoping it is the real deal and they are making good on delivering every time to the regions they state our troops are currently be served via their arrangements: i.e., certain areas of the Gulf and Middle East).

Had originally come across Operation Dear Abby earlier today when I paid a visit to Crickets blog. Her blog post (here) on the subject has additional insights concerning the program in general. [Thanks Cricket!]

*Note*: added link to AARP Magazine Mail Call article; added link to *recent* Houston Chronicle Dear Abby column; expanded the resource links portion concerning what more people can do ..., which is now under the heading of What More Can I Do to Support Our Troops?: last updated on Monday, November 15, 2004 at 2:59 AM [EST].

Posted by Morgan at 10:05 PM

July 6, 2004

WM & the Mennonites

A Mennonite ponders why his religous leaders are not objecting to the erection of a nearby Wal-Mart.

Where we Mennonites once reacted (and probably over-reacted) to the encroachment of �worldliness�, our ethical instincts seem to have been lulled to sleep by the mantras of economic growth and the promise of cheap stuff, even though the cultural consequence of Wal-Mart is probably far greater than the worldly forces we used to flee.

Posted by Kevin at 9:09 PM

June 8, 2004

A Change in Location

This poorly written article notes that WM decided to pull out of a site in rural Indiana after residents showed up by the dozens to protest the choice of site:

�Is this another sign that perhaps Wal-mart just isn't welcome in certain communities,� speculated Wal-mart attorney Steve Huddleston. �I can't speak for other situations and I think in this situation they listened to the community and reacted on it."

This is not the only time Wal-mart has gotten the cold shoulder. The city's eastside didn't welcome one at 38th and Franklin Road. Fishers put up a fuss and so did Westfield.

"Is Wal-mart willing to work with communities when it comes to this kind of opposition? I think this shows that it's willing to work with communities and that they respect what the community says and they want to be a good neighbor,� added Huddleston.

There were a few people who showed up -supporting the retail chain, but when the vote came down and city
leaders voted against the new Wal-mart coming to Greenwood you heard more claps and cheers than anything else.

Posted by Kevin at 12:31 PM

May 29, 2004

Saturday Roundup

The Star-Banner recounts Wal-Mart's successful and not so successful attempts to enter urban areas.

The company has championed a series of voter initiatives in hopes of overturning local ordinances that block its expansion. In the San Francisco Bay area county of Contra Costa, Wal-Mart spent more than a half-million dollars to gather enough signatures to put a county ban on big-box stores before voters. They ultimately defeated the ban.

A Wal-Mart lawsuit was enough to prompt officials in nearby Alameda County to repeal a similar ban. And, most notably, voters in the Los Angeles suburb of Inglewood in April rejected a Wal-Mart ballot initiative that would have bypassed local government and allowed a Wal-Mart-anchored shopping center to be built.

MSNBC reprints the St. Paul Business Journal's notice that a Supercenter is finally opening up in the metro twin-cities area, and discusses the spread of supercenters:
Zoning and development approvals quietly slipped through the city planning process in Woodbury this spring. The project thus far has avoided the same scrutiny from the local grocery unions that helped derail Wal-Mart's first attempt to open a grocery store in the Twin Cities market in 1997, when it pulled back on plans to open Supercenters in Apple Valley and Brooklyn Park.

At 206,919 square feet, the Woodbury Wal-Mart will be one of the largest stores of any kind in the Twin Cities. The center will include a 55,720-square-foot grocery, a drive-thru pharmacy, an outdoor garden center, an automobile service center and a gas station.

The Centre Daily gives space to one Dennis M. Banks, who supports WM:
I thought I would write in to set the record straight.

I know about Wal-Mart because I've worked full time for them for more than eight years. At our store, there are 240 employees and 80 percent work full time. I don't receive food stamps or need assistance for my family's medical expenses. I make a good living working for Wal-Mart.

I also receive raises each year, based on my performance. How many companies in State College give a 4 percent or 5 percent raise each year? We have 401(k) accounts, to which the company and I both contribute. We also have a company profit-sharing program for retirement to which the company is the sole contributor. Associates can buy Wal-Mart stock and the company adds 15 percent to the amount.

We also receive bonus checks yearly based on our store's profits. I have Geisinger health care, for which I pay a third of the premium. I'm told this is less than Geisinger employees pay.

I receive three weeks paid vacation a year and time that can be used as personal or sick leave.

Here is a copy of the article Mr. Banks was rebutting.

Posted by Kevin at 8:38 AM