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Thursday, September 08, 2005

Wal-Mart to Hold Job Auction

Guest post by John McGowan

In a Labor Day press conference, Walmart CEO McScrooge Walton outlined the giant retailer’s reactions to—and immediate plans in relation to—Hurricane Katrina. 

“It’s a sad commentary on the state of this nation,” Walton said.  “A little water in the streets and everyone’s looking for a hand-out.  Of course, we’re not against a little well-meant charity from private citizen to private citizen.  But you make this stuff systematic and there’s hell to pay.  No more work ethic, no more responsibility.  And it isn’t just the people who are to blame.  Corporate America’s gone soft.  Paying workers who aren’t working?  Who ever heard of such a thing?  It may look hard-hearted, but the only way to recover from this disaster is to trust to the same economic laws of supply and demand, of buy cheap and sell dear, that made this country prosperous and great.”

“So I am pleased to announce that Walmart will hold a job auction on September 15th.  People are going to need jobs—and we got ‘em.  The auction rules are simple.  Jobs will go to the highest bidder.  And, yes, we understand that some folks may not have ready cash.  So we will hold a supplementary auction where the bidding will be for the lowest wage.  We stand pledged to do everything we can to get the region’s economy back on its feet.”

To objections from the gathered reporters, McScrooge said: “I’ve learned two things in my years as a businessman.  First, sometimes you have to spend money to make money.  A job is an investment.  People will be happy to pay money to get one.  Second, even though you sometimes have to pay money to make money, the most successful businessman is the one who can figure out most often how to make the other guy pay.”

Asked if he had any regrets about Walmart’s preparations for or responses to the storm and its aftermath, McScrooge replied: “I sure do.  From now on, every Walmart employee is going to be trained by the NRA on how to use all those guns we keep in stock.  You won’t ever see a Walmart looted in the future.  I guarantee it.”

When one reporter suggested that armed employees might be tempted to take on management, McScrooge scoffed: “This is America, not Canada.  Just let ‘em try it.  They’d be replaced by illegals faster than you can say Rio Grande.”

Tuesday morning found the company back-pedaling furiously from the CEO’s intemperate comments.  A NPR story that morning reported that Walmart employees displaced by the hurricane would be paid for three days of missed work, as contrasted to two weeks pay for employees of McDonalds and Northrop-Grumman, and indefinite pay from some of the smaller employers in the area.  Curiously, the Walmart web site says nothing about paying displaced workers.  All it says is:

• Any displaced associate can come and work in any other U. S. Wal-Mart store.  Thus far, these associates have been transposed and are working from stories as far away as Alaska, California and Nevada, with many more in neighboring states of Georgia, Texas, and Florida.

Walmart has not returned this reporter’s calls, so I can’t tell you for sure if the job auction will be held on the 15th, or what the word “transposed” means when used to describe associates now working in Alaska, or if there is three days of pay (i.e. about $125) available for Walmart associates washed out of a job. In any case, the FEMA debit cards definitely look like a better deal. 

Posted by John McGowan on 09/08 at 08:01 AM
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