Walmart Anti-Union Training Video Leaks

“I don't think Walmart associates should have to have someone to speak for them. It's just not that kind of place.”

A training video from Walmart leaked onto the internet today. Its message? Unions are really just a ruse to take your hard-earned money—just like taxes! Naturally, the talking heads featured in this video gloss over how labor unions can get workers higher pay and quality benefits through the use of collective bargaining.

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Walmart Raises Wages to $9 an hour for 40 Percent of Its Employees

The retail giant will increase it’s starting pay for U.S. associates to $1.75 over federal minimum wage

Photo via Wikimedia Commons

Walmart is often cited as the epitome of corporate greed, known for underpaying workers and slashing healthcare benefits in the name of maximizing profits. However, Walmart, the largest private employer in the United States, has redeemed itself slightly in the eyes of some of its critics by announcing Thursday that starting in April it will raise employee pay to $9 an hour for its lowest paid U.S. workers—that’s $1.75 above the federal minimum wage.

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The Wal-Mart Protester and the Ghost of Tom Joad

Re-examining a classic novel in the era of our growing low-wage economy

When I was a dumb high school kid, I read The Grapes of Wrath, and remember being struck by the countless indignities systematically inflicted upon the decent, hardworking Joad family and their fellow migrant workers in the name of pure financial profit. The outrage and confusion I felt at the conclusion of that Pulitzer Prize winner came rushing back this month as I read about the Los Angeles Wal-Mart employees and their supporters—some of whom put tape over their mouths to protest what at least one striker reportedly called “Wal-Mart’s illegal fear tactics.”—who were taken into custody following a demonstration that called for the store to pay $15 an hour and provide better work schedules. They seemed to be asking for the same things the Joad family had sought: a decent living that might lead to better opportunity, in exchange for diligent labor. The American dream by way of an honorable social contract. But like the Joads, they’re growing increasingly frustrated that one end of the social contract isn’t being held up, to disastrous effect for many American families.

Far from being over, it appears the protesters’ activism is just ramping up as employees at more than one thousand Wal-Mart stores plan to walk out on Black Friday (which actually begins for many Wal-Mart workers on Thanksgiving Day). Those laborers are far from the only ones in the United States disgruntled to the point of Tom Joad-levels of frustration. Thousands of fast-food workers also went on strike this September, demanding $15 an hour and the right to unionize. More than 430 of them in cities across the nation were arrested for blocking traffic and other violations, but they must have found the risk of being put in handcuffs less stressful than allowing the status quo to continue.

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Will Walmart Shoppers Buy Ethically-Branded Products?

Ethical buying is becoming big business, but few manufacturers have floated charitable business models that target consumers beyond the elites.

When Project 7 started up in 2008, it launched an ethical branding strategy familiar to Whole Foods shoppers everywhere: Simply chewing a piece of Project 7 gum, popping a Project 7 breath mint, or downing a bottle of Project 7 water would help fund nonprofits that "Feed the Hungry," "Save the Earth," and "Heal the Sick." Soon after it released its charity-minded line, Project 7 landed in that king of crunchy retail outlets. This fall, Project 7 made its way to more unexpected shelves: Walmart's.

As of September, customers shopping at 1,490 Walmart Supercenter stores across the country can pick up tubes of Project 7 "Feed the Hungry" mints (each tray purchase funds seven meals in the U.S.) and "Save the Earth" gum (buying one tube will plant a fruit tree). The move from health food grocery store to big-box emporium represents an effort to court lower-income consumers to ethically-branded stuff. "It's been a fascinating thing to watch," says Project 7 founder and CEO Tyler Merrick, 33. "The Walmart shopper is different from the Whole Foods shopper, but they want to feel like they’re giving back, too, even if they don't have as much disposable income to give to charity."

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New Software Could Help Engineers Create Greener Products

For companies like Walmart, going green means making products that use fewer resources. Software companies are helping them get there.

The greenest product is the one that’s never produced, never sold, never thrown away. But for companies that design and produce the reams of stuff that stock the shelves at Walmart, Best Buy, and your local eco-friendly boutique, closing up shop isn’t an option. Going green rally means going greener by designing products that use fewer resources or less carbon-intensive materials.

To create a greener product, though, a company first has to figure out how green its product is to begin with. Until recently, the best way to obtain that information has been to commission a life-cycle assessment, a procedure that can take months and costs tens of thousands of dollars. But now, software companies that support product designers are offering tools to create quick-and-dirty life-cycle assessment for products, even while they’re in the design and innovation phase. If engineers make a change to a product’s design, they don’t have to make an effort to understand its environmental impact. They can just glance over to a corner of the screen. These estimates aren’t perfect, but they have the potential to help companies shrink the carbon footprint of their products.

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Infographic: Who's Winning, Walmart or Amazon?

Sure, Walmart is the biggest retailer on earth. But these stats suggest it won't be that way forever.

Walmart is fresh off a Supreme Court victory in its labor practices case, but take a quick look at some of the trends in this graphic and you might conclude its very business model will become a relic long before sex discrimination is.

Walmart is a business behemoth, no doubt about it. It's doing great, making a healthy profit, growing well.

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