An article I read recently, sadly, didn\’t surprise me.
It\’s a long article, but definitely worth reading.Â The quotes from internal memos, especially the Human Resource VP, are especially chilling.
There seem to be two fundamental forces at play here.Â The first is Wall Street.Â The second is the desire for cheap stuff to buy.Â Â Â
When you combine those two, what WalMart is doing makes sense.Â In a purely capitalist system, the purpose of the business is to make money.Â To continue to make money and keep their stock price high WalMart needs to not only keep its profits at high levels, it needs to grow those profits; and when you\’re as big as WalMart, one of the few options for profit growth is cost cutting (because youÂ certainly aren\’t going to raise your prices!).Â As the article states, the company is simply applying the correct business strategy to align their workforce more productively to lower costs and maximize profit.
Not really.Â Beyond the obvious, what stuck me as I read that article is that WalMart has created a 21st century version of the \”company town\”.Â The means of battling a company town 100 years ago was \”voice and exit.\”Â Employees could engage in collective action through strikes, and joining a union, or through individual actions such as quitting and moving to a better location.Â ButÂ WalMartÂ has done a terrific job avoiding that byÂ creatingÂ a system where the only place their employees can afford to shop is WalMart, limiting theÂ \”exit\”.Â They are also effective at eliminating \”trouble makers\” (like those pesky Unions), and avoiding \”voice\”.Â
What is left is for the rest of us to utilize those same tools.Â So all I ask is for you to think, before you shop at WalMart.Â