Monday, November 26, 2012

WalMart's Woes Into 2013

WalMart, probably the world's biggest retailer if you take the spin offs into consideration, such as ASDA in Britain. Their presence is felt in Europe, Asia, South America, Mexico, etc. Along with the empire goes the headaches which many governments feel as well. With size you become a bigger target and this year WalMart has a big ole bulls-eye on their foreheads! Let's look at a few instances by the numbers, in no apparent order of importance.

1. Unions. The union issue has surfaced bigger and badder than before in the western states predominantly, with threats of walk-outs on Black Friday to full on strikes. WalMart, in the past, would normally deal with an organizing store by terminating the staff and hiring new staff along with transfers from other stores. Their philosophy is that they're giving the associates the best they can without the price of dues or the issues with promoting unqualified people into positions of authority based solely on seniority. Wages, typically, were based on region and cost of living but WalMart has tried to level the playing field the past few years for it's associates. Unfortunately, some store managers have, in the past, taken it upon themselves to issue wage perks for some over others and had discriminated against women openly, to the ire of the home office in Bentonville, Arkansas. These managers caused at least two discrimination law suits that I'm aware of and this activity has been against company policy for a long time. I wonder where they work now?,

2. Obeying Company Policies. How big a brick does it take to bash a company policy into someones head? I guess the brick was too small for two associates in Georgia the other day. An alleged shoplifter was allegedly attempting to leave the store with 2 DVD players and was stopped by a Loss Prevention associate and another undetermined associate, whether manager or not I don't know at this point. The actions of the Loss Prevention associate, by using a choke hold on the alleged thief, caused the person to succumb to his injuries at the hospital. He was physically held down at the scene by the person that used the choke hold I believe, I could be wrong on this point not knowing which of the two held the unresponsive person down. When police arrived he was still unresponsive, transported to the nearest hospital, and was pronounced DOA(dead on arrival)!

This one will keep the company attorneys busy for probably the rest of the year and possibly into 2014 with a massive civil suit by the family of the alleged thief. Lawyers have already contacted the victims family I'm sure.

3. International Corruption! The New York Times reported on Nov. 15, 2012 "Wal-Mart on Thursday reported that its investigation into violations of a federal antibribery law had extended beyond Mexico to China, India and Brazil, some of the retailer’s most important international markets." Is this what it takes to get a store opened in other countries? I guess they're not banging down WalMart's doors for new building sites in far away lands!

4. Supply Chain Pressure. WalMart has always held that if they want your products you need to make sure you supply what WalMart wants when it wants it or their are other that will! It's a common practice with many company's that distribute to many stores. If something sells and the price is right they want it! Plain and simple. If you can't supply it then don't offer it to them. Unfortunately, some need the business with WalMart more than they need to treat their employees fairly. In the Daily Kos, printed on July 29, 2012, the following excerpt appears in part. The full story can be found in their archives for this date.

"Walmart suspended Louisiana's C.J.'s Seafood last month after some terrible publicity. Undocumented immigrant workers claimed they'd been forced to work shifts up to 24 hours long, among other abuses. This week, the Department of Labor hit C.J.'s with hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines and back pay." "C.J.'s is saying it won't pay all of the back wages it owes, or the liquidated damages or civil money penalties, so the government is going to have to go after that. If you're tempted here to think "this is just one Walmart supplier and Walmart has suspended it," bear in mind that such abuses are common in Walmart's supply chain. Recently, to take another example, workers filed safety complaints against a warehouse that, while run by a contractor, handles goods exclusively for Walmart.", and

"The impact of the immense pressure on Walmart suppliers can easily be seen at what workers call simply "the Crossdock". Workers say they are given brutal quotas for the number of boxes that they need to shift each hour. Supervisors, they say, make it clear that any failure to meet those quotas – even at the risk of physical injury – could be the loss of a job. "I feel that I am just something they could use and throw away," said Limber Herrera, 29, pictured, who is supporting a wife and two children on his wage.". This is the kind of pressure smaller suppliers can be exposed to if the availability of the products they supply is unreliable for them.

I'm not going to keep going on here because it's starting to look like a 'slam-fest' on WalMart. Indeed, this is not my intention. I merely mean to show how a constantly growing company, with good initial intentions, can be launched in the wrong direction at the most inopportune times by actions of others that are supposed to know what they're doing due to training and guidance daily, through managerial guidance, mentoring, and computer based training!

You can't say that WalMart isn't trying but sometimes it's hard to see the nail in the road until the tire goes flat!

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