I am writing in response to the article about the Wal-Mart Super Center being planned for Baxter. Wal-Mart tries to act like a good American company, but a look at the numbers proves they are not. Wal-Mart says they offer benefits, but the health plan they offer is so expensive very few of their employees can afford it. They also offer a stock option plan, they match 15 percent of the first $1,800 dollars worth of stock purchased. Once again it is tough for employees making $7 to $8 an hour to buy that much stock.
Wal-Mart uses the Made in the USA slogan when in fact upwards of 85 percent of their inventory comes from other countries. In fact they are the largest importer of Chinese goods in the United States. Wal-Mart's drive to keep prices lower has helped to crush the competition and is responsible for losing manufacturing jobs to foreign countries where labor is cheaper. They also fire workers who try to organize to gain better wages and benefits. in an article in USA Today they claim their wages are close or equal that of union grocery store wages, but they go on to say they won't disclose wages. If they were equal they would be telling everyone. To keep benefits down they keep one-third of their work force under 28 hours a week thus keeping them ineligible for benefits. If these reasons aren't enough to mobilize people against a super store, then maybe you should think about your friends and neighbors who own or work for small employers. Their jobs will disappear and the choices of places to shop will become smaller. The many specialty shops in the area, which help tourism will go away because they can't afford to sell things as low as Wal-Mart. A super center will hurt everyone and will benefit only those who are too short-sighted to see past saving a couple of bucks. You can find this information on many Web sites including USA Today, PBS, and Walmartwatch.
(Nelson, a Brainerd resident, is president of Local 798 American Postal Workers Union.)
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