Friday headline roundup

Walmart Day Parade. Anyone? (Huffington Post, 1/22/14)

The reason employees were protesting was, of course, wages. Low wages. Wages so low that many people can’t live on them. Can’t afford rent, clothes, food. Wages so low that Walmart held a food drive in their store during the holidays for their employees to donate food to other employees. Coworkers aren’t the only ones being asked to pony up and subsidize Walmart employees. The American taxpayer is forking over an estimated $900,000 to $1.75 million per store, or $6000 per year per employee. As a result of the low wages and hours well below 40 per week, Walmart employees frequently rely on taxpayer subsidized assistance.

 

Chinese workers fight Wal-Mart for better wages (Marketplace, 1/22/14)

China’s always been crucial to Wal-Mart’s success – for decades, the country’s cheap exports and quick supply chain helped the company maintain its low prices. Today, Wal-Mart operates 390 stores in more than 150 cities throughout China. It’s a good match for China’s shifting economy. The government wants to turn yesterday’s factory workers of the manufacturing sector into an army of restaurant, hotel, and retail employees for its new service sector. But Shenzhen labor lawyer He Yuancheng says Wal-Mart needs to pay these workers a livable wage. “Only when all China’s workers have money to spend will they actually consume more,” says He. “If companies like Wal-Mart don’t pay workers enough, China’s service sector won’t grow.”

 

Are Union-Free Strikes Protected? The NLRB (National Labor Relations Board) Thinks So. (National Law Review, 1/23/14)

The Board’s actions against Walmart are worth watching as they come amidst a larger backdrop of worker protests and political debates over minimum wage and working conditions that are likely to remain in the spotlight for the foreseeable future. How courts ultimately grapple with the Board’s position and the resulting questions could have far-reaching effects on the labor market in 2014 and beyond.

 

Chinese state TV criticizes Wal-Mart’s quality control (Reuters, 1/24/14)

A state-owned Chinese TV station which has run a string of stories criticizing foreign firms has accused U.S. retailer Wal-Mart of circumventing its quality control process and fast-tracking some products with higher profit margins. The report by China Central Television (CCTV) was based on an interview with an anonymous former Wal-Mart employee and cited more than 200 documents dating from 2006 that referenced a “special approval process” and mentioned alcohol suppliers that did not have production permits.

What do you think?