Wal-Mart‘s low-cost recipe for success is under attack from the threatened Black Friday walkout as workers protest low wages and benefit cuts. The retailer is fighting back, accusing organized labor of making trouble.
As the hottest shopping day of the retail calendar looms, the world’s largest retailer, Wal-Mart, is embroiled in a battle to defend its image, even its formula for success. A growing number of employees, protesting low wages and benefit cuts, is vowing to walk out on Black Friday.
“Wal-Mart has become the poster child for all the issues surrounding labor right now,” says Scott Testa, a Philadelphia-based business consultant and blogger who has studied Wal-Mart’s business practices extensively. The company has implemented aggressive anti-union measures, he notes, closing a store inCanada rather than negotiate.
The issues at stake are not peripheral, says Mr. Testa, adding that they go to the very soul of Wal-Mart’s business model. The Arkansas-based company, founded a half-century ago by Sam Walton, lives and dies by its ability to cut costs, he says.
Testa notes that Wal-Mart has evolved over the years by dwelling on the fringes of urban areas.
“Many of the municipalities where Wal-Mart has thrived were happy to give the company big open spaces of under-used land, where there was no development,” he says, adding that employees in hard-hit regions have been grateful for the jobs.
But now that the company is expanding into major urban areas such as Los Angeles, Chicago, andBoston, “they are experiencing a kind of worker pushback that they have largely been able to avoid,” adds Testa.
- Wal-Mart walkouts are just the start (salon.com)
- Black Friday walkout: Why Walmart is focus of labor’s struggle (rawstory.com)