MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

December 20, 2012

THE PEOPLE SPEAK – Low prices carry huge cost


— Increasing numbers of local people tell us that they shop at numerous small stores in town, despite Wal-Mart being the only large store in this area. They say they will buy locally, primarily due to Wal-Mart’s employee policies, even if it is a slightly higher price.

Market research firm Ibis World shows the average wage for a Wal-Mart employee is $8.81 per hour, yet, CEO Mike Duke stated in a conversation with Bloomberg LP President Dan Doctoroff, “we do pay competitive wages,” at least he made $18.7 million in 2010. Most of their increasing numbers of part time, low-salaried workers, who already qualify for government food stamps, will now qualify for the expanded Medicare program under the new health program.

In addition to over 700 clothing manufacturing workers killed overseas in the last five years, a recent fire in Bangladesh killed at least 112 workers locked in a nine-story building with no exterior fire escapes. Children under 11 years old are routinely beaten and work 12 to 14 hours a day, seven days a week. So we customers of Wal-Mart who are pleased with the low prices that we pay for brand names now know what the real cost of new garments include: Children used as slaves and locked in workers slaving overtime for low wages and hundreds of them either burned to death or killed by jumping for upper floors to escape burning.

EDWARD V. HARRIS

Hugo