Monday, October 31, 2005

Working For Wal-Mart

In yesterday's Daily News Lenore Skenazy parodies Wal-Mart's recently released internal memo by creating a her own Wal-Mart job application. Like all good satire, the fake app is comical yet also quite representative of the way in which Wal-Mart approaches the whole issue of health benefits for its workers. Here is an excerpt:

Part I

Nickname: (Note: If it's "Gimpy," "Stubby" or "Wheezy," please skip to Part IV.)
Real weight, you big fat liar:

Do you:

• Smoke?
• Drink?
• Eat fatty foods?
• Have you ever eaten hot dogs from the stand in the front of the store?

If yes, skip to Part IV.

Part IV: Try Kmart.
The serious issue that the parody deals with is that Wal-Mart is looking to discourage the "unhealthy" from even applying for work. All of this comes on top the revelation that nationwide 46% of the children of its workers our on Medicaid. Clearly Wal-Mart is the leader in keeping prices low only because it has cleverly been working to keep vital health benefits from negatively impacting its bottom line. The chickens are coming home to roost.

A more sober look at this issue is in the Business Section of Saturday's NY Times. Here the health care problems of Wal-Mart are put into a more global perspective, a problem that is facing all private employers and not just the Walmonster.