Abuse of Power Upsets Me – So I’m Boycotting Wal-Mart

Year after year, I have read stories of Wal-Mart’s abusive behavior, and I have taken a deep breath and continued to shop for bargains there. But no more. This time the giant retailer has gone too far. I will never darken the door of a Wal-Mart store again as long as I live.

Wal-Mart is bullying its employees into voting for John McCain in the United States general elections in November. Here’s the text of a Reuters report on the subject:

In recent weeks, thousands of Wal-Mart managers and department heads have been summoned to mandatory meetings at which the retailer stresses the downside for workers if store workers unionize, the (Wall Street Journal) said.

About a dozen employees who attended meetings in seven states said executives stressed employees would have to pay hefty union dues and get nothing in return, and might have to go on strike without compensation, and warned that unionization could force the company to cut jobs as labor costs rise, the Journal reported.

The Wal-Mart human-resources managers who have run the meetings didn’t tell those attending how to vote in the November elections, but made it clear that voting for the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, Sen. Barack Obama, would be tantamount to inviting unions in, the Journal said.

The people who run Wal-Mart have a history of bullying. They bullied suppliers into moving their operations overseas – to places like China – and this has cost Americans thousands of jobs. They are ruthless employers and rapacious competitors. A Wal-Mart store is like a cancer in a community, sucking the life from small retailers for miles around.

Furthermore, I have found the quality of its goods disappointing. The clothes I buy there don’t last, for example. And Wal-Mart’s groceries seem to be no cheaper than at some of its competitors.

I have found better deals at Winn-Dixie lately. Winn-Dixie’s two-for-one chuck steak offer last week was pretty good, and with my Winn-Dixie card, I save substantially when I shop there. Across the street, Dollar General offers great deals on non-food items like paper towels, cleaners and detergents. My wife, Sandra, prefers to shop at Publix because the service is so good and the ambiance is pleasant. (Besides, it’s closer so she saves on gas.) Publix also offers good deals sometimes – “buy one, get one free,” for example.

The ghost of Sam Walton must be looking down and shaking his head. He must wonder what has happened to his Wal-Mart vision.Sam Walton

In 1945, Walton (photo at right) opened a variety store in Butler, Arkansas with a $20,000 loan from his father-in-law and $5,000 he had saved from his time in the Army. From the first, Walton pioneered concepts that would one day ensure worldwide success. His shelves were stocked with a wide range of goods at low prices. He stayed open later than most other stores, especially during the Christmas season. And by buying goods wholesale at the lowest prices possible, he could pass on savings to his customers. This increased his sales volume, allowing him to negotiate even lower purchase prices from wholesalers.

The first Wal-Mart opened in 1962 in Rogers, Arkansas. Sam Walton’s mission statement was:

“Each Wal-Mart store should reflect the values of its customers and support the vision they hold for their community.”

I wonder what he would think of the chain’s community values now.