Is Wal-Mart really any different than any other retailer?
That's the question I'm asking myself after reading the Wake-up Wal-Mart site. Statistics can be skewed any way you want. What I found somewhat amusing is the idea that Wal-Mart costs taxpayers money. The complaint is that they don't pay their associates enough and the costs for medical insurance are too high.
I only have our experiences with low paying jobs to look to but here is what we have found. The McDonald's in town pays it's workers $7.50 an hour (minimum wage in CA). The managers make $8.00 no matter how long they have worked there. There are no benefits given to the employees and no opportunities for raises. Wal-Mart is looking like a good employer right now. The unionized grocery store here in town pays better IF you can get hours. They are only required to give you 24 hours a week if you don't have any availability restrictions in which case they aren't required to give you any hours. The pay is better but at 24 hour a week you make less than minimum wage after union dues are taken out. The medical plans offered are useless, being more like a discount plan, and you don't qualify for medical for your spouse until you've worked there 4 years! Again Wal-Mart is looking really good.
If you want to just look at medical plans I can tell you that the plans offered by Paul's day job (outside sales) aren't any better than what is offered to Wal-Mart employees and for a higher premium. The plan we are currently enrolled in has deductibles of $1000 and only pays 65% after you have reached the deductible. To be eligible you have to meet a certain sales plan for the year or you don't get coverage for the next year. Just in case you missed it, we actually qualify for state sponsored insurance for our kids so you this supposed professional type job can be said to be costing the taxpayers money.
Putting aside all of the above I still question whether or not there is a problem with Wal-Mart. I get the impression that there is a growing idea that afforable medical coverage and high wages are a right. That everyone deserves these things no matter what they are capable of doing. If workers are unhappy with the pay and benefits of a job isn't it their responsibility to look for a better employer? The idea that kept popping in my head as I read the stories from Wal-Mart employees and the "facts" on this site is that Wal-Mart is no different than any other retailer. The complaints and frustrations of the employees can be heard at any other place that hires unskilled labor.