Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Getting Jobbed at Wal-Mart

In today's NY Sun the paper reports that Wal-Mart is opening up a new store in Kearny, NJ, and the company received more than 8,000 applications for work. The Wal-Mart take, seconded by all of its commentator toadies, is that this deluge of applications means that "we are bringing good jobs with good benefits, and tremendous career opportunities into this community."

Well, not so fast fellas. We've been through a lot of this before, and it's useful to reiterate the fact that there are costs as well as benefits in the Wal-Mart equation-something that all of the acolytes fail to mention. What no one on that side of the ledger points out is that over the past decade 13,000 supermarkets have closed in Wal-Mart's wake. In this scenario the Walmonster's jobs have replaced those where workers were receiving much better compensation packages.

This is the process that the NY Times calls Walmartization-the replacement of locally owned businesses and unionized workers with less well-compensated retail employment. If Wal-Mart came into Monsey or NYC would there be lines of folks ready to accept the new jobs? Of course there would be, but that doesn't dilute the argument that the costs don't outweigh the benefits. Would the lines be any shorter if Wal-Mart actually paid their people better and provided for their health care?