Friday, September 16, 2005

More On NEA and Wal*Mart

Should I be surprised or disgusted?

It would be nice to be surprised, but I'm not. It would be nice not to be disgusted, but I am. Oh-for-two, in sports parlance.

On page 12 of NEA Today is a 1/2-page article slamming Wal*Mart. Why my union, which should be worrying about my pay and working conditions and nothing else, has an article about a corporation completely unrelated to those topics, or even to education, should surprise me. But I know why. It's because NEA couldn't care less about Darren. The NEA cares only about itself, and it feeds off my mandatory dues to satisfy itself. It's a blood-sucking leech, and that disgusts me.

What do they have against Wal*Mart? They're anti-union, the Walton family donates money for voucher initiatives, and wages are substandard. Yet how is it their profits soar? Oh, I know! They provide goods and services that droves of Americans seek! And they offer a number of jobs that are miniscule compared to the number of people who want them. People vote with more than ballots, they vote with their feet and with their wallets. And apparently there are lots of votes at Wal*Mart--except votes for unionizing.

Singling out a company by name? With my money? Am I the only one who sees anything wrong with this picture?

So I get frustrated and turn the pages of the magazine, and what do I spy on page 55? Why, a short blurb encouraging me to join Costco, a Sam's Club (and hence Wal*Mart) competitor. I have nothing against Costco, and apparently they're quite the good "corporate citizen", but it shouldn't be the place of the teachers' union to denigrate one company and promote its competitor.

Hurricane Relief:
Wal*Mart/Sam's Club: $28,000,000 in cash so far, plus more in goods
Costco: offering members the "opportunity to donate directly to the American Red Cross"
NEA: $1,000,000 (to be raised and given, not just given from current funds)

I wonder if Wal*Mart will try to make any points off these data? Nah, they're too busy providing services that people actually want--unlike the NEA.

Update: OK, this story isn't about the NEA in particular, but it is about a union that uses temporary employees as paid picketers outside a Wal*Mart in Henderson, NV. The closing says it all:

Yes, the UFCW is outsourcing its picketing to non-union workers, at a sub-standard pay rate with no benefits, in unsafe conditions, with no transportation or means to leave the premises, in order to protest the poor jobs inside Wal-Mart, where workers make twice as much.

To quote Glenn Reynolds: Heh.


Dan said...

Two problems with Wal-Mart:

By being a dominating force in retail, and by not having to care if they lose one market to stifle a union, they are able to enjoy monopsony power in the labor market, which effectively allows them to offer a lower than market efficient wage, and hence earn an above normal profit. If you have no problem with that, you should also have no problem with the repeal of the Clayton act, and monopolization should be okay.

Second, conservatives are fond of citing the free market. There isn't one, and Wal-Mart takes full advantage of it. Those without healthcare can show up at emrgency rooms and be treated for 'free'. Workers who make substandard wages can apply for food stamps and other programs. If we eliminated these policies / programs, I'd say let Wal Mart do what it wants . . . but it would quickly find that its workers would be less enthused to work for the same pay without benefits. tout Wal-Mart all you want, but your tax dollars are subsidizing Sam Walton's yachts.

This is the same thing that caused the S&L crash . . .S&Ls were FDIC insured, so, when de-regulated, they had no problem investing in risky ventures. That worked out pretty well, also.

Darren said...

True, there's no "free" market. There's a "moderately regulated" market. Still, what Wal*Mart is doing is perfectly legal. Some might have moral problems with it, but they're only operating in the environment we've created.

I'm not convinced that health care should be provided by employers. Where's the *logical* link in that? Where in the logic of the universe does "health care=employer"? Yes, they can get better discounts than individuals, as can government :-), but I remain unconvinced that employers should be required or expected to provide health care. Those that do--bully for them! But don't pretend that it doesn't depress the wages they pay.

Oh, and Sam's dead. I don't think he's buying any more yachts.

Dan said...

I don't think we disagree . . . I just want to set up a system where an employer can gain advantage by exploiting me as a taxpayer. Wal-Mart does that.

Darren said...

I'm sure you mean that you want to set up a system where an employer CANNOT....

Exploiting you as a taxpayer? I remain unconvinced. As I said at lunch yesterday, if you think you're being exploited as a taxpayer, shop at Wal*Mart and save some money!