Saturday, September 18, 2004

Wal-Mart hates unions

Wal-Mart hates unions. That bears repeating. Wal-Mart HATES unions. I went for the five-hour (paid) orientation today for my cashier job at the self-proclaimed "world's largest retailer" and got an eye-opening glimpse of the world behind the retail curtain.

If the people tasked with training employees were the ones running the store, Wal-Mart would be worse off than K-Mart. That, or dead like the old Howard's chain. Everyone was very nice, courteous, helpful and pleasant - they all just suffered from an inability to get anything done. And I know we won't get paid for the extra two hours we had to stay there.

In all honesty, it would have gone faster if they had brought people in five at at time to fill out paperwork and all that stuff. Also if they had told you exactly what you needed to bring, like the documentation for direct deposit, insurance forms, etc.

And Wal-Mart HATES unions. Well, actually, the word they use is "pro-associate." The logic-chopping used to defend the anti-union position would make George W. Bush seem like a master diplomat. Unions take your money and give you no benefit in return. I nearly laughed out loud at that one. And then there was the "union negotiations may leave you with fewer benefit" line. Umm, yeah. That's hardly likely to happen.

We had to watch a 40 minute video on the benefits of Wal-Mart's "pro-associate" approach to business. Then the store manager rolled in to give another 30-minute lecture on how in her 20 years with the company she had never seen any good come of a union. And about how her door was always open for anyone to talk to her. And about how unions would only take our money in order to have someone speak to management for us. Sheesh.

I have to say though, every single person I saw seemed to be excited about their job. No one had that beat down expression or attitude that people at my regular job have. And I know I feel that way sometimes too. All the senior-level types were very helpful, cheery and certainly seemed to give the impression of this being a good place to work for.

But their stance on organized labor alone makes me pause. Still. It is a huge chunk of change a month just to stand at a register and scan stuff. I mean, how freaking hard can it be? And judging by the individuals of rather dubious "intelligence" that were running the orientation, the mass brainpower of the management team may not be too high. Oh, the store manager seems as smart as a whip. She's also a great public speaker; one of her co-managers (the senior team seems to be ALL women) is great too. But the human resources types seem long on the cheery attitude and short on the get-it-done factor. I'll let everyone know how it goes next week.

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