When faced with the threat of a strike, 19th-century railroad financier Jay Gould infamously stated: "I can hire half the working class to shoot the other half"; with prices like these it seems Walmart has, for the moment, done this to their 21st-century workforce. Walmart is claiming record sales from Black Friday. OUR Walmart and the UFCW claim they rallied in over 100 cities and received support from those they interacted with, yet sales continued. Why did they continue? Because the American people just can't pass up sales this good.
Alice Hines, in her article for the Huffington Post entitled "Walmart Strike Hits 100 Cities, But Fails to Distract Black Friday Shoppers", tells us of a shopper named Tammy. Now Tammy, like a vast majority of Walmart workers and many other American workers in the retail sector, is used to being the pawn of billionaire corporations. In the interview Tammy clearly understands how these workers feel:
"Walmart cuts hours and benefits to push people out. It's the same thing at Walgreens. The workers are suffering while billionaires make all the money."
However, like many other shoppers, Tammy just couldn't pass up the sales.
Through an unquenchable urge to get the best sale possible, millions of shoppers, many in the same economic position as those who stock the shelves, work the registers, help you find the products and unload the trucks, allowing these very tactics to work. Walmart and many of their allies claim that prices will go up if the workers succeed in having their voice heard or labor unions win the day. Robert Reich, former Secretary of Labor and professor of Public Policy at Cal Berkeley, shows corporate America's timeless claim is true, but insignificant:
"But if retail workers got a raise, would consumers have to pay higher prices to make up for it? A new study by the think tank Demos reports that raising the salary of all full-time workers at large retailers to $25,000 per year would lift more than 700,000 people out of poverty, at a cost of only a 1 percent price increase for customers. (http://robertreich.org/post/36219730368)"
As you see, what Walmart really hopes for is that you are so desperate for that sale that you hunger to save every last penny and they can oblige only by keeping your fellow American's wages as low as they can. We know the Walton family will never let their profits or investor needs trickle down. And the workers can always find another job, or like 80% of those who work for Walmart they can always rely on some sort of public assistance. But why should we care; I mean look at these sales.
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Walmart CEO Rob Walton has placed his faith in those infamous words of Jay Gould. The Walton Family and many who follow their labor model will continue to use working Americans to thwart progress, but only as long as we let them. The American people have to learn that they are more valuable than a great sale. Every one of Walmart's sales has a hidden price. The price of the money you saved this Black Friday came at the expense of the American worker.
Rich Bergen is the managing editor and primary writer for ProgressMo Shuffle. Rich is a Center for Progressive Leadership 2012 Pennsylvania Political Leader Fellow, a Correction Officer, Union Steward, graduate from Concordia College-Bronxville with (more...