Wal-Mart Answers Wage Critics

Sep 11, 2003
George Anderson

By George Anderson

Wal-Mart’s senior vice president of corporate affairs, Jay Allen, took issue with critics who portray the company as a low wage employer that has profited at the expense of its own employees and lowered the standard of living for families in the US, in a letter to the editor of the Washington Post.

Mr. Allen agreed with an op-ed, which ran in the Post on August 27, that Wal-mart hires for many entry-level jobs. He points out, however, “many of these jobs are held by students working their way through school, retirees who need or want another job in retirement, working spouses in two-income households and individuals with physical or mental disabilities whom few other employers would hire.”

On the issue of its wage-and-benefit packages, Mr. Allen contends Wal-Mart is competitive and that it covers eligible full and part-time employees.

To the criticism of Wal-Mart’s import policies, Mr. Allen responds, “While we buy locally in all nine of the countries where we operate stores, including the United States, it is not always viable to buy locally. For example, China now makes 80 percent of the world’s toys, bikes and Christmas ornaments. At the same time, this year we opened a U.S. export office to help U.S. manufacturers introduce their products to international markets through Wal-Mart stores.”

Moderator’s Comment: Is Wal-Mart unjustly criticized for its labor and product sourcing practices?

Few will ever get rich going into retailing. Perhaps, that is why so few make retailing a career. Split the difference between what Mr. Allen writes and
Wal-Mart’s critics and you get closer to objective reality.
Anderson – Moderator

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