No problems at “our” Walmart

If you wonder why there’s just the average hustle and bustle at your local Maryland Walmart today, there’s a good reason – a court order given last year keeps pro-union protests off Walmart property. But the UFCW keeps trying, encouraging supporters to instead tie up the phone lines in protest.

If you live in Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Maryland, Ohio, or Texas, we ask that you remain off of Walmart property and tweak your action by calling the store manager on the phone to inform them that you/your group is there supporting #WalmartStrikers rather than delivering anything to the store.

I don’t have to go to Walmart today, but I did have to go to a different store close by Walmart so I took a look around. It’s near a corner where union picketers have stood before so in reality visibility is somewhat better for any who would protest Walmart anyway – although Wendy’s and McDonalds probably aren’t happy about it. Yet today the corner was busy with auto traffic and no protests in sight.

In other areas around the country, though, left-leaning news sites are gleefully reporting protests, including a major one in Washington, D.C.

But Walmart wasn’t taking this lying down, nor were they going to depend on media to share its side of the story. I noticed this commercial played during the football games last Sunday and yesterday.

In reality, Walmart is like any other large company – employees who perform better or do more to improve themselves by taking advantage of opportunities the company may offer tend to advance.

Moreover, the $15 per hour demand by the UFCW smacks of hypocrisy when, as Diane Furchtgott-Roth writes, union employees in other UFCW union stores make far less after years on the job. Perhaps the Black Friday protests should occur at UFCW headquarters.

But what happens if employers knuckle under and pay $15 per hour? Indeed, for many it would be a tremendous raise, but the increased labor costs for those employers would ensure those who survive the immediate wave of layoffs and automation which would naturally take place with the vast wage increase for millions of workers would watch inflation (and a higher tax burden) erode their gains to a point where the process would have to begin anew in a year or two as advocates would demand $20 an hour to keep pace.

You may recall earlier this year the CBO came out with a study that predicted a minimum wage increase to $10.10 per hour could cost at least 500,000 jobs, and perhaps as many as a million. (At the same time, a smaller increase to $9 an hour would only cost 100,000 jobs and have a slim chance of increasing employment.) While the study didn’t document a raise to $15 per hour, it’s likely job losses would be in the millions based on the data compiled.

Until the UFCW looks at increasing wages and benefits in stores they do represent, their targeting of Walmart rings hollow.

Calling the bluff

Back in the early days of my website (and its predecessor) I devoted a lot of space to the foibles of Walmart in Maryland, simply because of the so-called Fair Share Health Care Act Maryland used to try and punish the nation’s largest retailer with. (This piece is an interesting look at how that bill came about. Notice it was Walmart’s largest – and unionized – competitor taking a lead role here.)

But in the last few days the chain’s been back in the regional news as the Council of the District of Columbia approved a bill specific to Walmart as it’s in the midst of building a half-dozen stores in the District. So when the United Food and Commercial Workers union chimed in on Facebook with their approval of this half-baked measure bragging that “The DC Council has just passed the Large Retailer Accountability Act! Here’s to a living wage in DC and and hopefully many more cities to come!”, I felt compelled to chime in:

Those who bash Walmart make the mistake of assuming ALL jobs at Walmart are minimum-wage jobs. So how is it their average wage is over $12 an hour? People are paid what they are worth to the company, and those who make minimum wage are worth that or less to the overall bottom line. Eventually those who stay and do well at their jobs get raises and additional benefits.

If those who propose enacting this law want to be fair, why not just legislate that ALL businesses in D.C. pay $12.50 or more an hour? What, you say that will hurt the mom-and-pop stores and cause them to furlough workers? Thanks for playing.

Businesses are not in the game to create jobs or sell products to the public. They are in it to make a profit. If Walmart can’t make a profit at a store the correct thing to do is pull the plug. If a chain can’t make a profit they go out of business – remember Montgomery Ward?

They tried this same law in Maryland, which was narrowly tailored to Walmart, and it was tossed out in court due to violating ERISA. In the meantime, plans to build a distribution center in one of Maryland’s poorest counties were scrapped.

You may not like Walmart but it looks like they may have called D.C’s bluff.

I have to admit: people indeed have a love-hate relationship with Walmart. I know I do when I do my outside job, since it involves me traveling from time to time to any one of nine local Walmart stores in three states. Sometimes the help is most helpful and sometimes it leaves a lot to be desired. A good friend of mine who works for Walmart would probably tell you the same.

But the fact is Sam Walton’s brainchild exists in the market as the largest player and now America’s largest private employer. (I didn’t know that until I worked on my pieces for Patriot Post last week and read this. Number two is temporary job-placement firm Kelly Services.) In many respects Walmart is also a temporary employer, as I’ve noticed the stores along the coast hire extra people for the summer as well as holiday help, and it wouldn’t shock me if they had five to ten applicants for each open position. So obviously people are willing to work for minimum wage – if that’s indeed what Walmart pays; it can be much more depending on the position – rather than continue to collect unemployment, or they may consider Walmart a step up from their current job.

Yet Washington D.C. is trying – by writing a law so narrowly that it affects Walmart and only Walmart – to accomplish the same goal, except they have a big problem: there are no Walmarts there yet. While it may be somewhat difficult to place new stores in the inner Maryland suburbs, there are already seven Walmart stores within 20 miles of our nation’s capital and room could probably be found for more as needed. In the meantime, residents of the affected areas will have to suffer from a lack of options and at least one major revitalization project is in doubt due to the Walmart law.

Whether the District cuts off its nose to spite its union-stuffed face is still up in the air because D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray is hinting he’ll veto the bill and it passed without a veto-proof majority. This is even though Walmart warned the city it may pull out despite the fact construction on three stores had commenced and they’ve tried to promote their local image through stunts like this one in Maryland. But they can install all the solar panels they want and not get on the good side of a party which owes its allegiance to Big Labor and not the working-class people who can benefit from a career at Walmart.

Perhaps the store can invest some of the money saved by abandoning D.C. into renovating a couple of our older locations which could use a facelift. We’d appreciate the investment if those inside the Beltway don’t want it; in fact, we would find that a refreshing change.