A one-time school project gone terribly, terribly wrong.

01 August 2008

Wal-Mart Makes It Easy!

My decision, that is.

Avid Fans of this blog (all both of you) will doubtless recall my position on Wal-Mart. I feel about Big-ass Retail Senior much the way the Jewish community felt about Yasser Arafat.

So it may come as a surprise to find that I was actually considering returning to see what bargains were in-store for me.

For the past two years I've confined myself to the purchase of compact fluorescent light bulbs at Wal-Mart because the price was very good compared to other outlets. But as a rule I avoid the place like the plague.

What made me reconsider? Simple: They're making a conscious effort at being "green" (although I'm strongly considering moving to "brown" as the desirable descriptor. Earth is mostly brown, under a light coating of what on a cosmic scale must be considered fungus--or possibly slime mold).

That's right, of all the retailers they seem to be the only major label in Canada that's realized that a) "Green" tends to be cheaper, b) Green can bring in customers--some of whom would otherwise like to burn down Wal-Marts everywhere, and c) that it has to be more than just reusable bags for sale.

But then they went this week and £µ©λed it all up.

I can't be sure who they DO support, but they don't support their employees:
"The meeting leader said, 'I am not telling you how to vote, but if the Democrats win, this bill will pass and you won't have a vote on whether you want a union,'"
Yeah, because what Wal-Mart employee in their right mind would actually want a union?

I mean, what did unions ever do for the workers, eh? All they ever did was stop us working seven days a week sometimes, and make us stop working after forty hours if the boss didn't need us to. And we all know how those measures dismasted the economy. No--people are clearly better off without unions.

It's surely not co-incidence that the only unionized Wal-Mart in the world suddenly shut down shortly after the union was certified, is it?

I'm not entirely sure about the pros or cons of the Employee Free Choice Act. But to connect it to how you vote in a federal election, and specifically to whether or not you pick Obama or that other dude as president?

On balance, I'm glad they've given me a reason to return to my prior level of patronage--after all, I still have major issues about their labour practices and social and corporate behaviour.

Wal-Mart needs to take a lesson from Spider-Man: "With great power comes great responsibility."

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At 2:06 p.m., Blogger The Nag said...

I have a Captain Ahab type hatred of Walmart. Right on brother!

At 2:07 p.m., Blogger Wandering Coyote said...

Yep, they're evil.

...But so cheap...


At 9:15 p.m., Blogger Silverstar said...

Fortunately, they are way out of the way for me to go to. I wouldn't go anyway, as I think they not only exploit workers in North America, but allow the super-exploitation of workers around the world. Also fortunately, I can buy those bulbs at Rite-Aid for $1.99. But maybe it's a Seattle thing.

At 1:53 p.m., Anonymous G Eagle Esq said...

Bonjour M Metro

Having perceived the superficiality of Brown and the unAchievability of Green .....

.. can I urge you to consider the wonderful merits of GRAY .....

Je reste le vestre Servant obedient etc


At 8:42 p.m., Blogger Progressive Conservative said...

Unions that cater primarily to low-skilled workers care more about their dues than helping their members. if they actually had the best interests of their members in mind, they would push harder for job skills training instead of the false hope of a 'living wage'.

At 7:16 a.m., Blogger Metro said...

I just feel that there are better things to do with my money than buy crap. I also believe that the crap sold at other stores is fractionally better than that sold at Wal-Mart.

There are three items I cannot fault myself for buying from Wal-Mart: Tires (although this year I went with a genuine tire shop), compact fluorescent bulbs (they were first out the gate), and track pants ($10).

My other objection to Wal-Mart is that the goods they sell are kind of shoddy, mostly. So they create a "ghetto tax," of the which more in another post.

No question that Wal-Mart is worse to its workers than most other chains, certainly in Canada.

However, one reason that I was considering looking inside one for the first time in years is that they seem to be concerned about their reputation for slave labour ... sorry, "child labour," sorry, "labour-unfriendly" practices, and are apparently creating a minimum standards agreement that their suppliers will have to live up to.

And whatever their sins onshore, their workers in North America are probably better off than the slave labourers, sorry "child labourers" sorry--"happy collectivized Olympic workers" in China.

@G Eagle:
Green is very acheivable, provided that some folks are willing to let the economic engine cool (happening anyway even as we speak), risk a little political capital (the interest in the Liberal Party's green plan shows that people are willing to listen to a viable idea), and act right now (as opposed to our current rulers' approach which may be described as "Yes, fifty years from now this will all be a green paradise ... no, we can't tell you just exactly how. But there won't be any carbon taxes, you can bet on that--even though most credible economists seem to be calling for them.")

@Progressive Conservative:

Thanks for stopping by. I think you're wrong about unions, generally.

But in any case, I'd rather trust a union than Wal-Mart to look after a labour force.

And why should a living wage be a fantasy? Should Wal-Mart hope for all its employees to work a couple of years there and then move on?

What job skills should unions be pushing for?

I mean, the skills set for those jobs isn't what I'd call comprehensive.

No, I'd have to say that skills training should be (and I realize that Wal-Mart might consider this radical) the employer's responsibility.

In any case--does that justify interference with voters?

At 2:39 p.m., Blogger Slave to the dogs said...

CF bulbs aren't green, per se. They're full of mercury and not so easy to dispose of in a 'green' fashion.

At 8:57 a.m., Blogger Metro said...

On the contrary--you can simply return CFLs to the place where you bought them. Where I live the local hardware store has a special bin dedicated to broken CFLs--or possibly burnt-out ones (I've never had one burn out yet).

They aren't "full of mercury." They contain about five milligrams of mercury, max.

Your thermostat or hot water heater probably contain mercury switches. Your watch bettery probably has mercury in it. Know any kids with those light-up sneakers? Yup.

Just pointing out that we use mercury in everyday stuff all the time. But it needs have negligible impact if we dispose of it properly.

From the Natural Resources Canada website:
"Does the mercury contained in compact fluorescents make incandescent bulbs better for the environment?

No. Although compact fluorescents (CFLs) contain small amounts of mercury, they are far more energy-efficient compared to incandescent bulbs. This means CFLs reduce greenhouse gas emissions from electrical generating stations powered by fossil fuels, as well as the need to build new power generating stations. And because CFLs last about 8 times longer, fewer bulbs and far less packaging ends up in landfills."

However, rest easy--shortly we'll be seeing LED-based light bulbs. No mercury, or less at any rate, even less power use, and they'll never burn out at all.

At 11:09 a.m., Anonymous G Eagle Esq said...

Je pense que Monsieur means :

"tYres" .......

At 3:43 p.m., Blogger Metro said...

Mi dear myster eAglE, iou mai have mysynterpreted mi yntent.

At 1:36 p.m., Blogger Pugs said...

LOL! I love that Hitler-esque smiley face. So edge.

I'm voting for McCain also, because Wal-Mart told me to, not because I have a brain.

At 1:51 p.m., Blogger Metro said...

The Hitler-smily is actually cribbed from a cover image for Jonah "The Doughy Pantload" Goldberg's ludicrous drivel "Liberal Facism."

As to your voting choices, I suspected as much. There's still time, you know--Once you go Barack you'll never go back :-)

Or vote for Nader or someone--he's at least as relevant as McCain ...


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