One thing I admire about America is the fact that I can work anywhere I want. With the right skill set, education, and sometimes just plain luck, I can choose my destination—at least that’s how I was raised. After my stint in retail, I decided to become a librarian. With my love of technology, books, and people, I thought I would be a perfect fit. I signed up for the next semester of school and pursued a Master in Library Science Degree. It’s been the best choice I ever made. While I was in school, I supported my family by working at Wal-Mart. I soon realized that the business model that I had experienced at another retail outlet was founded and groomed by Sam Walton himself. The Walton Business Model is this: Low Wages + No Healthcare + High Turnover Rate + No Unions = Low Prices + $$$. (Cotto, 2012)
I was thankful for the job. I had received it right after being let go from a previous retail job. (Nelson, 2014). Despite the horrendous economy, I thought I would be different—that out of all of the millions of people looking for work, my resume, experience, and college degree would stand out from others. I had never had trouble finding a job. I realized how bad things were when I applied to a call center and the parking lot that was usually full of employees was empty. “We are still interviewing prospective employees, but right now we have a hiring freeze.” It was like that everywhere. The Great Recession made me realize that just because you work hard finding a job doesn’t mean that you will find. I was desperate and was willing to work anywhere to provide for my family.
One day, I noticed that a new Wal-Mart was opening up in Logan, Utah. I travelled an hour away and within a couple of days I landed a new job working in the pharmacy department. I soon discovered how the Sam Walton business model worked. I will describe the model and my experience in a subsequent post. The experience left me questioning how the way things work in the retail world. For now, here are a few reasons I’m against the Sam Walton business model:
- When I was little I remember people in our ward who owned small businesses. There was a member who owned a grocery store. There was another member who owned a pharmacy. The business community contributed to the Church and to the members. Around the early 1990’s word quickly spread that a Walmart was moving into town. Within a decade small towns in Utah—from Brigham City to St. George were decimated. Instead of keeping wealth in our small communities and Churches, we made the decision to ship it off to Bentonville, Arkansas.
As J. Reuben Clark said, “I have not approved and do not approve of capital’s weapons—the blacklist, lockouts, the grinding out of the maximum returns for the minimum of wage outlay, even the imposition of starvation wages that too often have been capital’s means of dealing with labor in the past. These have worked great injustices that must not be repeated. They have been the stimulants that have produced labor’s present state of mind (quoted in Tullis) (Tullis, 1976).”
- Nearly one fifth of American workers work in retail. Many of these workers are highly skilled and college educated. With so many citizens and members of our Church working in retail, the jobs need to be sustainable. (Ton, 2014) Should the six heirs of Walmart really be worth more than 40% of all Americans? (Bivens, 2012)
- I’m sick and tired of Walmart paying bribes and lobbying fees to Congress, the President, foreign governments or whoever in order to protect its business model (Hamburger, 2012) .
- Walmart doesn't allow its associates to have a voice in how they are treated or paid. Walmart is against unions and will do anything to keep them out. (Lichtenstein, 5/24/2008)
As B.H. Roberts said, “The hosts of men that are engaged in the several trades have found it necessary in some way or other to protect themselves, that they may command a reasonable price for that labor. . . . [W]hatever the excesses may be, and however much we may regret them, nevertheless organization and union on the part of labor became an absolute necessity to the working masses (Roberts, 1903).”
Bivens, J. (2012, July). Inequality, Exhibit A: Walmart and the American Family. Retrieved from www.epi.org: http://www.epi.org/blog/inequality-exhibit-wal-mart-wealth-american/
Cotto, J. (2012, November 3). Nelson Lichtenstein on how Walmart has changed the face of business. Retrieved 7 2014, from Washington Times: http://communities.washingtontimes.com/neighborhood/conscience-realist/2012/nov/3/nelson-lichtenstein-how-walmart-has-changed-face-b/
Hamburger, T. (2012, April 24). Walmart Took Part in Lobbying Campaign to Amend Anti-Bribery Law. Retrieved July 2014, 2012, from www.washingtonpost.com: http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/wal-mart-took-part-in-lobbying-campaign-to-amend-anti-bribery-law/2012/04/24/gIQAyZcdfT_story.html
Lichtenstein, N. (5/24/2008). How Walmart Fights Unions. Minnesota Law Review, 1462-1501.
Nelson, A. (2014, June). I Began to Have Issues With How American Workers are Treated. Retrieved from www.mormonliberals.org: http://www.mormonliberals.org/i-began-to-have-issues-with-how-american-workers-are-treated/
Roberts, B. (1903). Conference Report , 97.
Ton, Z. (2014, July 1). Why Companies That Pay Above the Minimum Wage Come Out Ahead. Retrieved July 2014, from www.forbes.com: http://www.forbes.com/sites/forbesleadershipforum/2014/07/01/why-companies-that-pay-above-the-minimum-wage-come-out-ahead/
Tullis, L. (1976, Winter). Mormonism and Revolution in Latin America. BYU Studies, pp. 235-249.