Saturday, February 18, 2006

Pass Drug and Personality Test if You Want a Job at Wal-Mart

Wal-Mart, like many large American corporations with low-wage employees, screens potential hires through a drug test, in addition to a multiple choice personality test, which asks applicants to express their level of agreement with statements such as "rules have to be followed to the letter at all times." (Ehrenreich, 124)

Hint: to pass the personality test answer the obvious questions with 'very strongly agree' or 'very strongly disagree' not 'strongly agree' or 'strongly disagree'.

Example: Question: rules have to be followed to the letter at all times
Answer: very strongly agree not strongly agree (if you want the job)

Health Care Benefits at Wal-Mart

Wal-Mart employees with health insurance 48%
Costco employees with company health insurance 82%
NY Times, 5/4/05

Wal-Mart employees must wait 6 months (full time) and 2 yrs (part-time) to qualify for benefits and the deductible can be $1000.
Philadelphia Inquirer, 5/16/05

Employees on the “Value Plan” cannot count the following services towards the $1,000 or $3,000 deductible: pharmacy copays, mammograms, pap smears, well-child benefits, ER and Ambulance deductibles, and per event deductibles. As a result, Wal-Mart makes it hard to ever meet its high deductibles forcing employees to shoulder more costs. Unlike many small local businesses, Wal-Mart can afford to do better.

"There are government assistance programs out there that are so lucrative it's hard to be competitive, and it's expensive to be competitive," Lee Scott, Wal-Mart CEO
St. Louis Post Dispatch, 04/06/05

Does Wal-Mart Really Want a 121,000 sq ft Store?

A good point has been brought up. Is Wal-Mart proposing a 121,000 sq ft store just so they can eventually 'compromise' on the size they really want? What if the size they really want is a 100,000 sq ft store. Public relations wise they will look very 'cooperative' if they agree to 'reduce' the footprint of the store from 121,000 to 100,000 sq ft when 100,000 sq ft is what they wanted all along. What size store to people in SL really think we need?

Friday, February 17, 2006

Another Famous ADE 'Poll'

The Adirondack Daily Enterprise began a new poll last Monday 13 Feb. The question is "Do you want the 121,000-square-foot Wal-Mart that has been proposed for Saranac Lake"? I think the question would have been better and more informative if the word 'Wal-Mart had been left out. Ninety percent of people in the area want a general merchandise store. One point we could agree upon is the size of the store.

One disappointing feature of this 'poll' is the comments section, or at least the way it is used. Most of the comments were reasonable and relatively civil for the first couple of days and then went downhill from there. I don't favor a Wal-Mart in Saranac Lake but I certainly don't want those who do want a Wal-Mart to move away. Also, I think it's silly to treat recent transplants to Saranac Lake poorly. Don't we want people to move to SL? I'm glad Wal-Mart will hire 300 people. I'm not happy that those people are going to be treated poorly by a corporation that can afford to be more generous to it's employees. I also honestly feel that some local businesses are going to have a very hard time surviving after Wal-Mart moves into town. I feel badly for those business owners who may have to close their businesses.

I also find it sad that good people like Linda Piro and Mark Kurtz are being disparaged. Both of them are doing what they feel is right for our community.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Let's 'Work Together'

Unscientific poll now ongoing at the Adirondack Daily Enterprise website. The question is "Do you want the 121,000-square-foot Wal-Mart that has been proposed for Saranac Lake"?

I believe there are basically three groups involved in the ongoing Wal-Mart story. The first group wants a Wal-Mart and only a Wal-Mart and the bigger the better. The second group understands the need for a large retail store but seems to want to limit the size of the store to 68,000 sq ft or below. A large proportion of this second group also does not want the store to be owned by Wal-Mart because of Wal-Marts business practices. The third group wants the status quo - no large retailer. I believe the first and second groups probably comprise at least 90% of the people in the area. I also believe that the sizes of the 1st and 2nd groups are quite similar.

So how do groups 1 and 2 'work together'. Well, obviously the square footage of the store would be an easy place to begin to compromise. A more difficult problem is with those who insist that Wal-Mart has to be the store and refuse to consider trying to attract another company. They have the advantage that Wal-Mart obviously wants to come to the area and thus far K-Mart or Target or someone else has not expressed a desire to build here. Wal-Mart also now owns two contracts to purchase the land in SL. However, those contracts are probably worthless without the 10 acres that belong to the village.

I wonder how much Wal-Mart would be willing to compromise in this situation? Wouldn't it be wonderful if the village could insist that Wal-Mart provide affordable health care coverage for Wal-Mart employees. Many states are now beginning to pass laws that companies with over 10,000 employees must spend a certain percentage of their income on employee health insurance. Wal-Mart can afford to provide decent healthcare coverage unlike many local businesses. Wal-Mart could increase their prices by one half percent and easily start treating their employees like human beings.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Liberals Are Intolerant

Google 'liberal intolerance' and you will find thousands of conservative rants about how liberals are 'intolerant' and thus hypocritical. You see liberals claim to be 'open minded'. See how liberals are intolerant of Wal-Mart.....See!

Well I have to admit I am very intolerant of Wal-Mart. I cannot tolerate their definition of a 'full time' worker. I cannot tolerate the fact that they offer health insurance that their employees cannot afford. I cannot tolerate that they are discriminating against hiring people who might be health insurance risks (overweight) or the way they discriminate against women. I cannot tolerate that they pay wages lower than other large mechandisers. I cannot tolerate that a multi-billion dollar corporation relies on tax payers dollars so we can have 'Always Low Prices, Always'. I can't tolerate how they are responsible for the migration of manufacturing jobs overseas. I have little patience for the disregard they have for small town stores and the predatory practices they use to put them out of business.

But mostly I guess I'm intolerant of those that who allow Wal-Mart to succeed using such unethical business practices.

Does Saranac Lake need a large retailer? Sure it does. Do we need 121,000 sq ft of stuff for sale? Well it seems that could be a point of compromise. Would a downtown location for a retailer be a better option? Certainly a question deserving of an answer. Can the people of Saranac Lake, it's towns and counties work together to find the answers? One would hope so.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Fridays Home Town Gazette

There was a one sheet insert in Fridays Adirondack Daily Enterprise called Home Town Gazzette. This is billed as an independent Editorial publication and the only clue to the publisher is an email address:

There are basically five articles in the Gazette. The first is titled Area Shoppers Impressed with Variety, Value! "Under the leadership of a single volunteer, local resident Ms. Gloria Volz, area merchants were asked to complete lists of the kinds of merchandise they carry for their valued customers". The jist of the article is that Saranac Lake merchants indeed sell most of what you need to get by. A newly formed Local Merchants Association of the SL Chamber of Commerce plans to spread the word about the "friendliness, variety, and vitality of downtown businesses".

The second article is titled Wanted: Department Store, but what kind, where and how big? It asks do we want to look like "everytown USA" or preserve the towns unique character? It goes on to say that an informal Chamber of Commerce survey indicated a 65% preference for a store no larger than 60,000 sq ft.

The third article - Here's how you can participate. It basically calls for educating yourself about the issues from traffic to predatory pricing. I doubt very much that this will happen to any extent. People in SL that want a department store want Wal-Mart and the bigger the better. It doesn't really matter how many children are enslaved to make the products Wal-Mart sells.

The fourth article - A big box here -- What's the logic? A Wal-mart the size of the one proposed for SL would be almost 3 times the size of Price Chopper in LP and one-third bigger than the entire Ames shopping center that currently houses seven businesses.

The last article - Thinking outside the big box. A call for creative thinking, building on our strengths and self-sufficiency. "Encourage our area to put a moratorium on major development as a unified Town/Village Master Plan is created, and encourage planners to cap new store development at 40,000 sq ft - or new plaza development at 68,000 sq ft - a size limit used successfully in many communites our size". This is the same request being made by Sound Adirondack Growth.