Wal-Mart Named one of the best Companies for Latinas… I will continue to boycott the store.

August 30th, 2007 · 21 Comments

Earlier this week Latina Style Magazine announced that Wal-Mart has been named one of the “50 Best Companies for Latinas.” Wal-Mart has 154,000 Hispanic associates and has two Hispanic board members. Latina style chose the Wal-Mart after surveying 800 American corporations and ranking responses on recruitment, employee benefits and advancement opportunities for women, particularly Latinas.

I probably don’t need to go into the many reasons why Wal-Mart is not a worker friendly company. If you have ever read Barbara Ehrenreich’s Nickel and Dimed, you will get a good overview of the typical treatment of a lower level associate in a Wal-Mart store. Most people are aware of the implications of supporting this behemoth institution. Wal-Mart pushes out smaller independently owned businesses, conducts extensive business with China, has been the target of class action lawsuits, offers health insurance to less than half of its employees, and has been repeatedly cited for environmental pollution. I certainly wouldn’t aspire to work in such an environment, but then again, my education affords me more choices. I realize that for many Latinos, there are few options in terms of employment and places to buy affordable goods. But we have to do better. I don’t think that Wal-Mart is going to change its tune any time in the near future.

Tags: Latina Style · Uncategorized · Wal-Mart

21 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Latino Pundit // Aug 30, 2007 at 6:18 pm

    I saw a documentary on them and how merchants have to go through their merchant selection process. They seemed very anal about the whole thing, as if Wal-Mart was God’s gift to retail. I wasn’t impressed.

  • 2 HispanicPundit // Aug 31, 2007 at 12:54 am

    You forget to mention one of the many, and I would say most important, positives of Wal-Mart: providing cheap products to the very poor. Have you been into a Wal-Mart lately? If you have, you must have noticed that Wal-Mart, both in its work force and its customers, is very different than the other ‘politically correct’ food chains like Vons, Ralphs, and Albertsons. Wal-Mart tailors heavily to the poor and minority. The customers and the workers there are overwhelmingly brown and poor – an area of the market that the other grocery chains business strategy has neglected.

    Of course not being poor gives you the luxury of raising your nose at Wal-Mart, but to the poor and neglected, Wal-Mart is a godsend. Which is why, for example, Wal-Mart stores often receive thousands of job applications for even a handful of job openings. And why their base, both in customers and workers, is overwhelmingly brown and poor.

    Me personally, I’m sticking with the brown and poor and supporting Wal-Mart, a company that has benefited the poor and minority in the two areas they need it the most – with jobs and cheaper products.

  • 3 The Kaiser // Aug 31, 2007 at 1:00 am

    Latina Style Magazine must’ve got a big fat check to promote this international retail exploiter of labor, exclusive reseller of Chinese products, and “Death on Two Legs” to the small American retailer. It just goes to show how committed Latina Style Magazine is to the Latina consumer. Their promotion of Wal-Mart furthers the stereotype, that as a culture we are not only easily bought, but Latina Style magazine also expects us to be stupid and naïve as well.

  • 4 Bearguez // Aug 31, 2007 at 1:08 am

    I guess it’s safe to say Latina Style magazine has totally blown its opportunity to actively compete with the other mainline consumer report magazines. What an incredibly stupid endorsement. Latina Style magazine just offended all the Latinas that do read!

  • 5 Michaelr // Aug 31, 2007 at 1:16 am

    Been in that store once, and will never go back again. It is the reincarnation of Zody’s, old Kmart, and White Front. Talk about poor service, attitudes, trash products, and customers children going wild. Who wants to be a part of that!

  • 6 webmaster // Aug 31, 2007 at 6:19 pm

    Hispanic Pundit, thank you for your comment. What makes Vons, Ralphs, and Albertsons politically correct? If I remember correctly, those are all huge corporate entities that always try to short change their union employees. That doesn’t seem very PC to me. I believe that Albertsons is heavily tied to the Mormon church. They aren’t exactly the most “politically correct” either, but that PC is a relative term.

    I have been in poor communities, and I see better discounts at the local farmer’s markets and fresher produce. Actually, Latinos are better served by local growers for produce, and many other discount stores have Wal-Mart like products for comparable prices. Additionally, Wal-Mart tends to push out smaller retailers that may be owned by women, minorities, and other Americans trying to make a living. If Wal-Mart continues to dominate the market, do you really think that their prices will always be lower?

    You are right. I do have more options, and I chose to avoid that store when possible. The few times that I have been in Wal-Mart, I have found it to be chaotic and unorganized. Poor people deserve to shop in nicer stores just as much as rich folks do. Perhaps if Wal-Mart made some improvements in its store, provided better benefits to its employees, and was active in speaking out against the shoddy products made in China with prison and child labor, then I could support this enterprise.

  • 7 Wal-Mart Is The Poor And Minorities Friend at // Aug 31, 2007 at 7:56 pm

    […] Politics Blog reports that, Wal-Mart Named One Of The Best Companies For Latinas…yet decided to continue its boycott of the company anyways. You can read the blog and fellow […]

  • 8 Latino Pundit // Aug 31, 2007 at 11:13 pm

    I didn’t even consider the whole China products and production…you just opened up another can of worms! lol

  • 9 Michaelr // Sep 1, 2007 at 12:08 am

    HispanicPundit…has it ever dawned on you that the reason Wal-Mart hires poor people of color is because they are not successful hiring anyone else? Poor people of color are easily manipulated, will tolerate more abuse than other employees, and will not complain when they are denied health benefits, and will not say a word when they are passed over for promotion. Is that an organization you want to support? An organization that exploits poor people of color, and assists them in remaining poor.
    So let me understand you clearly…because Wal-Mart sells cheaper products, you support them. Have you ever asked yourself why they sell cheaper products and still generate record profits for their shareholders? Do you know that Wal-Mart imports more products from China than any other entity in the world? Do you know that Wal-Mart’s Chinese vendors use prison and child labor to manufacture those products and that process not only lowers their wholesale costs, which expands Wal-Marts overall profit margin, but it also assists in destroying the U.S. manufacturing base that used to employ all those poor people of color. And that’s why poor people of color fill out thousands of job applications at Wal-Mart for 3-4 openings, because Wal-Mart has bankrupted their former employers who used to pay them higher wages and benefits. If that’s benefiting the poor people of color then you need to read more books and watch less Network television. Because your support of this organization is an extreme detriment to La Raza, and you’re too dumb to even see that.

  • 10 HispanicPundit // Sep 1, 2007 at 1:15 am

    Thanks for approving my comment! I appreciate the opportunity for dialogue. With that, let me respond to your comments,

    Actually, Latinos are better served by local growers for produce, and many other discount stores have Wal-Mart like products for comparable prices.

    Well you may think so, but many disagree – enough of them atleast, to have Wal-Mart profitably operate in the area.

    Additionally, Wal-Mart tends to push out smaller retailers that may be owned by women, minorities, and other Americans trying to make a living.

    True but Wal-Mart also tends to bring in compatible smaller retailers that may also be owned by women, minorities and other Americans trying to make a living, see here. In addition, if wages and benefits are truly your concern you should hope that more small businesses are replaced by Wal-Mart as Wal-Mart gives higher average wages and benefits then small businesses do.

    If Wal-Mart continues to dominate the market, do you really think that their prices will always be lower?

    Yes. Because the only reason Wal-Mart continues to dominate the market is their pricing is significantly lower than others and consumers tend to value lower prices over other things. So if Wal-Mart starts to raise prices it gives others the opportunity to cut into Wal-Marts market share. It’s one of the many great things about competition, the consumer wins.

    I always found the criticisms of Wal-Mart inconsistent: ‘Wal-Mart is bad for the poor’ some argue, but then when you look deeper into it you realize that Wal-Mart gives more jobs and cheaper products to the poor than any other food chain. If thats treating the poor ‘bad’, I wish other food chains also treated the poor ‘bad’. Then others argue that ‘Wal-Mart pays low wages and little to no benefits’, but then turn around and criticize Wal-Mart for driving small businesses out – yet small businesses on average pay significantly lower wages and give less benefits than Wal-Mart does. Then there are criticisms that ‘Wal-Mart is bad for minorities’, until you realize that Wal-Mart hires more minorities and has more diversity in its workforce than all other food chains. Others criticize Wal-Mart for buying products made in China, implying that Wal-Mart is ‘exploiting’ (a term that is hardly ever defined, but I digress) their cheap labor, but then you realize that by Wal-Mart doing that very thing, “Wal-Mart might well be single-handedly responsible for bringing about 38,000 people out of poverty in China each month, about 460,000 per year. Even without considering the $263 billion in consumer savings that Wal-Mart provides for low-income Americans, or the millions lifted out of poverty by Wal-Mart in other developing nations, it is unlikely that there is any single organization on the planet that alleviates poverty so effectively for so many people. ” See more here.

    Then of course, when these criticisms run out you get more of the personal criticisms – things like, Wal-Mart is ‘chaotic and unorganized’, Wal-Mart employees give ‘poor service, attitudes, trash products, and customers children going wild. Who wants to be a part of that!’, without taking into account that many of these employees are the very poor and minority – the very people who lack jobs and benefit most by Wal-Mart’s job opportunity. Whenever I read comments like this I always wonder what these same people would think about poor areas in general? I could only imagine their elitist thoughts at seeing that many poor areas are also ‘chaotic and unorganized’, and have many ‘children going wild’. I expect criticisms like this from white limousine liberals like John Kerry and John Edwards – multi-millionaires whose only experience they have had with poor minorities is talking to their gardeners. But when a minority does it, it irritates me to the core.

    Why then do so many people really dislike Wal-Mart given their incoherent criticisms of it? If I had to guess, I would say the real criticism of Wal-Mart comes from the fact that it refuses to unionize its workers. It is the single biggest threat to unions in the food industry and because unions control so much of the political talk machine, their (incoherent) criticisms get repeated by the masses.

    But if this is the case I ask those who criticize Wal-Mart to look more closely at the facts. Unions, by artificially pushing up wages and requiring union dues put such a demanding premium on wages that the companies find it very difficult, impossible in many situations, to offer lower prices. This is why union run grocery chains like Vons, Ralphs and Albertson cater to the middle class. It is only through the middle class can these grocery chains sell products at a price where they can make a profit. In addition, by artificially raising wages unions force companies to hire employees who have higher productivity (a company would not hire an employee at a loss, if it is forced to pay higher wages, it has to find more productive employees to offset) – which is why these grocery chains have a significantly lower percentage of employees that are poor (and minority, through association).

    So you are left with two economic models: First, you have the union model that pays its employees higher wages and has better working conditions, but as a result gives you grocery chains that tailor to the middle class and primarily employee middle class workers. Second, you have the non-union model that pays its employees lower wages but as a result also employees less productive employees (the most neglected segment of society), operates in poor areas, and provides the poor and minority with two very essential necessities – jobs and cheaper groceries.

    Which one of the two economic models do you think is really better for the poor and minority? You know my choice.

  • 11 webmaster // Sep 2, 2007 at 1:48 am

    Hispanic Pundit, out of your two economic models, I would have to pick number one. However, things aren’t as black and white as you portray them. You forget that the unions helped create the middle class in America. Check this article out:

    “According to the United Food and Commercial Workers union (UFCW), Wal-Mart could pay each employee a dollar more per hour if the company increased its prices by a half penny per dollar. For example, a $2 pair of socks would then cost $2.01. This minimal increase would add up to $1,800 annually for each employee.”

    I don’t think that poor minorities are content with earning less just so they can afford more “cheap” and often inferior goods.

    Also, in 2004, Wal-Mart’s CEO made $17,543,739 in total compensation, which was 871 times as high as the pay of a typical Wal-Mart worker. The executive pay is outrageous. Don’t you think that worker morale and employee attrition would improve if the compensation scales were not so terribly skewed to one end?

    My other criticisms of Wal-Mart in terms of the customer service and store aesthetics are valid as well. I would rather give my money to a company that is going to deliver good customer service and create a pleasant shopping experience. Many people, even the poor, pay a little more for better service. Why do you think businesses bother training their employees in relational sales techniques and in customer service skills? My experience with Wal-Mart did not leave me with the impression that they cared about customer service and the overall shopping experience. I don’t think that poor people should have to tolerate inferior service. They do it enough as it stands with the public education and health care system… why carry if over to their weekly shopping excursions?

    As far as this goes, perhaps we can just agree to disagree.

  • 12 Latino Pundit // Sep 4, 2007 at 1:34 pm

    Have you seen this sign?

  • 13 I’m Not The Only One » Blog Archive » Labor Day and Wal-Mart (Cue Scary Music) // Sep 5, 2007 at 12:41 am

    […] Friend, Hispanic Pundit notes that another blog, Latino Politics Blog, continues its boycott of Wal-Mart (cue scary music) despite the fact that Latina Style magazine named the retail giant one of the best […]

  • 14 MGF // Sep 5, 2007 at 4:17 pm

    The documentary “Walmart-The high cost of low price” is very interesting. I too boycott the store, and I hate to see the signs of new Wal-Mart openings popping up all over town.

  • 15 RickM // Sep 15, 2007 at 10:44 pm

    Interesting commentary here. Like the webmaster, and others, I choose not to shop at Walmart. But I can understand the appeal it has to the poor.
    I have some issue with a few of the things said by HispanicPundit, though. First, the statement that non union workers are more productive than union I believe is incorrect. If I’m wrong, I’d sure like for HispanicPundit to show me the research showing I’m wrong. Everything I’ve ever read about productivity is just the opposite.
    I would also ask him if WalMart is so inexpensive because of their anti-union policies, how does a store like Costco, which is union, compete with them. If Costco can do it, certainly WalMart can.
    Finally, though, my biggest problem with WalMart is their attitude about health insurance. I’ve only heard it second hand, so it may not be true (although it certainly has the ring of truth to it), WalMart tells it’s part time employees to sign their kids up for SCHIP (State Children’s Health Insurance Program). It is socially irresponsible for the biggest retailer in the world to not cover their own employees for insurance, at least in part, because they know the government will do it for them.

  • 16 Leslie // Sep 19, 2007 at 7:07 pm

    I stay the heck away form Wal MArt. Believe me the poor are better served shopping at produce markets they own. Where healthy foods are priced lower not processed food that will just send us to the doctor quicker. and why are the poor minorities gettinmg hired by Walmart this compnay of greatness Hispanic Prudit describes? Because they have elminated jobs these “poor” folks used to do for a decent living wage by outsourcing everything to China. Target may not be perfect but their business practices are better with better made products. walmart is the devil and I avoid it like the plague.

  • 17 Leslie // Sep 19, 2007 at 7:13 pm

    Walmart health care policies are horrendous. Nice that they keep their products low while passing on the cost of their workers dependents healthcare on to us the tax payers. And not to mention how many people forgo health insurance when they work at companies like Walmart. Thats a ticking time bomb right there. Also I alos heard Walmart takes expensive life insurance on its ederly and disabled workers with a healthy pay out. Yes and the customer service in Walmart is horrible. I compare it with the ghetto stores run by tenenagers and the snotty upscale retail shops where the staff feel they are too good to do their job. I agree with the comments above please stop watching network television.

  • 18 Michaelr // Sep 20, 2007 at 6:27 pm

    Right on Leslie! Wal-Mart represents what is ugly about capitalism. Their success surely challenges the argument about whether we are a progressive society, or one that is completely gullible to all levels of media propaganda.

  • 19 Daniel // Sep 24, 2007 at 8:08 pm

    I couldn’t understand some parts of this article I will continue to boycott the store., but I guess I just need to check some more resources regarding this, because it sounds interesting.

  • 20 William Derhak // Sep 10, 2008 at 12:12 pm

    I am not to sure about the latin issue, but then I am not latin. My wife is from Argentina. Also, I am Canadian. Again, I am not sure that makes a difference. The main issue I have is why Americans are not boycotting Walmart totally. Here is a business that has directly cost Americans their jobs by buying goods offshore. Why would you spend you money with a company that helps people loose jobs. Walmart is not pro American. The company pays their employees minimal wage and causes other individuals to loose well paying jobs so that they can buy cheaper goods outside of the USA. Yet, millions of Americans flock every day to their local walmart. Maybe, there is some truth to the saying that Americans are stupid. I am just asking the question. By the way I do not shop at walmart and my wife (she is latino) does not shop at walmart.

  • 21 Michaelr // Sep 10, 2008 at 10:49 pm

    William Derhak, thank you for your comments regarding the confusing mystique of Wal-Mart, and its contribution to the demise of the American manufacturing base. I have read comments from all over the world praising and degrading Wal-Mart, its business practices, and its negative treatment of lower level employees, and I am just as surprised at its ability to survive and prosper. Network television, the film and music industry, and Madison Avenue have all contributed to the excess glorification of mass consumerism in the United States. So much so that the basic necessities of food, health, and continuous education are ignored so that child can obtain the clothes necessary to keep them in style. This mentality is prevalent amongst the lower classes, especially in their efforts to not appear lower class amongst middle class children. Since the 1980s, the gaps separating the haves and have nots, has expanded to the point of distinct separation. Wal-Mart, its business processes, and its exploitation of minority labor would have never succeeded in its current excess prior to 1980. It needed deregulation of fixed markets, tax supports from Republican administrations, and labor abuses to become the monster that it is. America is now only interested in making money. All the values that made America what it is have been redefined and given short eyes. Now as this country sits at the edge and looks down at the abyss, I wonder what the abyss is saying back to it.

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