Monday, September 05, 2005


I have a theory about WalMart's exploitation of the proletariat. It seems to me that a good portion of WalMart's employees are only marginally employable. The alternative for many of WalMart's employees is working at WalMart or not working at all. So how can WalMart afford to hire these people when other places can't? Because a good portion of the "wages" received by WalMart employees are in the form of training. WalMart may pay $1.50 less than the place next door, but its employees are receiving $1.50 worth of training--training that will allow a WalMart employee to apply to the place next door and start earning that extra $1.50. So not only does WalMart make unproductive citizens into productive citizens, but it also allows prepares those newly productive citizens for yet more productive employment.


Blogger Noumenon said...

In favor of your theory, most of the training that higher-paying jobs offer (such as how to adjust the gap of a flexible die lip) is not really portable, whereas "get up in the morning and be a mindless automaton who doesn't take breaks" is a habit you can take anywhere you go. I don't know where the employees do go after their 50% turnover, I'd expect to similar jobs, not better. There's sort of a revolving door between low-wage employers so you don't have to work for any one full-time if your attitude prevents you from doing that, but none treats you well enough to stay.

6:16 AM  
Blogger Hamlette said...

Although I work for Walmart at the moment, and have worked for several different WM stores in the past, I'm not always 100% gung-ho in favor of the company.

However, it does try to do some things the right way, and some of their hiring practices reflect that. For instance, I've known several associates who can't read, or at least not well enough to understand employment documents. Maybe these people do end up in more menial positions like maintenance (cleaning) and People Greeter, jobs that don't require the ability to read well, but they do get jobs. The store I'm at now has several people who are mildly handicapped--one guy has a paralyzed hand; two or three people are mildly mentally handicapped; one has a speech impediment...

Noumenon is probably right though--a lot of these people aren't going to move up to a better job, they're gonna go work at McDonald's or a gas station...but they can learn skills like handling money, running a cash register, stocking shelves, using machinery like a piant mixer or a film processor or a key-maker, or even learning to work with food in the grill area.

And at least it's an employer you can list when you apply for another job. IMHO, having held down a job with a known employer makes you look more employable than never having worked anywhere at all.

10:27 PM  
Blogger Noumenon said...

Wal-Mart at Forefront of Hurricane Relief

10:17 AM  
Blogger Hamlette said...

My store contributed several pallets of blankets and socks.

9:28 PM  
Blogger Hamlette said...

Like it said in that article Noumenon linked to, displaced Walmart workers get to work at other stores until their own stores are back in operation. Our overnight manager told us the other night that there's one Neighborhood Market that usually has about 100 employees that now has about 320 (I don't remember the exact figures, but I know it basically tripled).

9:39 PM  
Blogger Octavo Dia said...

(such as how to adjust the gap of a flexible die lip)

I'm so proud of myself.

4:16 AM  
Blogger Noumenon said...

there's one Neighborhood Market that usually has about 100 employees that now has about 320

The Full Service Wal-Mart, an idea whose time has come.

how to adjust the gap of a flexible die lip)

Maybe this is a portable skill, if your next job is teaching the King Kong puppet at Universal Studios how to sneer.

I'm just here to help you set a record for number of comments to one post.

8:02 PM  

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