The Las Vegas Weekly is reporting that a worker’s union which represents WalMart employees is hiring temp workers (without benefits) to protest WalMart’s employee practices and “greed.” Quite a bit of irony in this situation, but also some viable issues that should not be ignored.

The United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW – www.ufcw.org) published a press release on Sept 13th, alleging:

“Wal-Mart is not only leading the race to the bottom in the U.S. but is leading the race to the bottom around the world.  As the world’s largest company, Wal-Mart should be setting the standard for corporate responsibility; instead, it is needlessly exploiting workers to gain competitive advantage.”

Where does Thomas Friedman weigh in on this? Conservative economists like Garett Jones and Tim Kane?

My perception (currently) of globalism is that the phenomenon of “rising tide” is accurate to an extent: when the economy is growing, all sectors benefit to varying degrees– but some clearly benefit more than others. The same movements for worker’s rights, women’s rights, etc. which have been fought throughout history since the industrial revolution continue, and rightly so. But WalMart seems to be a lightning rod, and maybe that attention is not always justified. Consider this quote from the same Las Vegas weekly article:

“The average rate of pay for Nevada Wal-Mart workers is $10.17 an hour. We have a good insurance program, and every associate—even part-timers—are eligible for the 401k,” says Mark Dyson. “There’s actually different levels of insurance, dental and medical—I have a $500 deductible, but there’s no cap on it. Some other companies’ plans have a $1 million cap, but here there’s no cap. For example, not long ago we had an associate whose husband needed a liver transplant, and that alone was $600,000; but they didn’t have to worry about a cap.”

Clearly the employees working inside the WalMart that is being picketed are in better shape than those temp workers outside doing the picketing who have no benefits.

The broader concern should be, I think, how are communities like Las Vegas and yours helping people acquire literacy and job skills that will enable them to earn more than a minimum wage someone is picketing about? Thanks to Trip for this storyline.

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