Walmart v/s Target, Kmart, etc in terms of workers

I hear a lot about Walmart, and how they treat their workers terribly, and how they pay so very little that nobody working there can afford to feed and house their families, while the owners make gazillions. So I’ve started avoiding shopping there, which is a pain as they did save me some money and were convenient. But now I’m wondering how “good” my options are.
There’s both a Target and a Kmart near me. Both have a similar if more limited selection as the Walmart, with Kmart having an edge in clothes and shoes, and Target having an edge in food. Kmart’s prices are about the same as Walmart, and Target is higher, but still lower than other stores. Do either of them have an edge in how they treat their workers as compared to Walmart, or with other factors that might affect my shopping there in good conscience?

One recent thread on the subject. (Not Walmart vs Target and Kmart specifically, but Walmart vs other retailers.)

It’s a shame that all those Walmart employees are forced to work under those conditions, basically as indentured servants.

and another on their treatment of their employees.

I wouldn’t worry about Walmart’s treatment of their employees. I haven’t heard of walmart treating their employees poorly other than low pay.
If someone feels they are underpaid, they can get a job somewhere else. If they are incapable of getting a job somewhere else, (as has been claimed) then they are not underpaid, and you are doing them a favor by shopping at walmart and allowing walmart to provide them jobs.

If however, you object to a business that provides poor customer service by paying low wages and therefore having substandard employees, then you should definitely not shop there.

There have been numerous cases of employees locked in stores after hours while cleaning(with no key available in case of emergency), forced work off the clock, unpaid overtime, etc.

I have known 5 or 6 people who have worked at WalMart, and they generally liked/loved it. WalMart doesn’t generally hire MIT grads, which may account for the low wages, and the employees generally have better insurance than most people, save municipal employees, so, I wouldn’t cry for them.
I think if employees have been locked inside overnight, that there have been fire doors, which are generally required in any new building since 1920, and don’t require keys,or else the fire marshalls would have locked them down mucho quick.
Just ‘shock’ journalism, sort of like McDonald’s and their ‘horse’ meat, etc… that we heard back in the 70s.

Old anecdata from a former employee, but I felt that KMart at least tried to treat employees decently, recognizing birthdays as paid days off. Pay was terrible but there was bonus for Sundays and holidays.

I agree. If there were really “numerous cases” of employees being kidnapped and held hostage, I would think there should be documentation. And as quoted above, pretty nearly all commercial buildings have doors that cannot be locked in such a manner that people cannot escape.

Now, if the argument is that these people could not leave without losing their job, that’s a different story. One solved by finding another job somewhere else. The bottom line is all workers trade their time and labor for money, and all are free to work somewhere else.

I Know people who have worked at W. And T.
It’s not the workers I don’t care for it’s the people who think they are better than others because they shop at ---- and not at ------.

The people I know that work here are just trying to make their ends meet.
They choose their hours and shifts accordingly, pick up their paychecks, and follow protocol for whatever Job they are hired to do.

Makes no difference to me.

There’s no reason to make stuff up, and that’s what that is, either by you or whoever you got it from.

And once you claim that different retail stores are better or worse places to work (a plausible statement) you’ve undercut the claim that it’s a problem somebody outside has to fix. If Kmart, Target, Walmart etc are all colluding to hold down wages or refuse proper treatment of employees, then that’s a problem that needs an outside solution. If instead the various places have varying pay and working conditions, then it doesn’t need an outside solution. The workers who can get a job at the better places will, the ones who can’t get a better job must face the reality that they aren’t worth any more than they are being paid. OTOH if Walmart was really doing stuff like locking people up, criminal charges could and should be filed, but again that’s basically made up.

That said I respect anyone’s right to shop or not shop where ever they choose, including nonsensical reasons like believing Walmart often locks up its employees. It’s only when they propose bringing government or other coercion (‘card check’ non-secret ballot union elections etc) into play that I object. Then there has to be a very good reason, and the facts have to be correct. Not the case with Walmart.

I personally don’t want ‘customer service’ when I’m in a store. Just leave me alone and I’ll find what I want, and if the store isn’t organized to make that easy, I’ll go elsewhere. There weren’t any Walmarts at all near me (NY area) until recently and the nearest one now still isn’t that close. But if I happen be around there and need grocery items it’s cheaper than the regular supermarket and you don’t have to buy big packages like at Costco.

Wait, are you suggesting that running coach made up the idea that Walmart locked employees in the stores? Because here’s an article from The New York Times of January 2004 (admittedly ten years old) about the practice (described as at least fifteen years old at that point) of locking employees in the store. And regarding the fire exits, the employees were told that using them in any event short of an actual fire was grounds for dismissal.

And just for balance, here is a one-year-old article that Target locked some janitorial contractors in some of its stores. So it’s not something that anyone “made up” but was (is?) a real practice of some employers.

Being told you have to stay inside or you lose your job is not the same as being “locked in” like in jail where you actually can’t get out, which is what people are objecting to.

Seriously? Is this going to be yet another thread in which we have a five-page debate about semantics?

Costco pays their people way above other retail stores and they still make a good profit.

Wal-Mart Loses Unpaid Overtime Case (From 2002)
Wal-Mart to pay $4.8 million in unpaid overtime (From 2012)
Wal-Mart Settles 63 Lawsuits Over Wages (From 2008)

Wal-Mart Employees Were Locked In Stores

perhaps it wasn’t entirely semantics or “made up” after all.
Of course others are encouraged to post their cites as well. That is the way we all learn.

I used to stock shelves and general customer service at Kmart. And you know what? It was a shit job. Not because of the company and their policies, per se, but because it was a low-level entry job in a cheap retail store that has a high degree of turnover in those positions.

It’s great when you’re 19 years old, but move on and find a better job if you’re so miserable, because the job does not have any sort of benefits other than being a drone.

In the case of violation of labor laws and what have you, perhaps Walmart has the most egregious offenses, but all in all, it’s a shit job with managers who are usually assholes doing a shit job.

If the implication that such things are common, as if they’d likely be happening at given Walmart you go to, of many 100’s of outlets, based on a handful of relatively old lawsuits, then maybe yeah :slight_smile:

Anyway the main reason to avoid that 5 page debate, at least as far me having an interest in it, is that it’s basically beside the point as I see it. Ie, anti-Walmart activism often seeks to bring outside coercion (discriminatory local laws or zoning decisions against the company, broader state or national action, govt forced non-secret ballot union elections etc) to solve this ‘problem’. But if in fact Walmart can be clearly distinguished from other better behaving retailers (as to labor relations), then that automatically undercuts the argument for a government coercion ‘solution’. The people who don’t like the deal at Walmart and are really worth more in the market, can get a job at one of the (supposedly) much better retail outlets*. And if some people are left with a crummier deal at Walmart in that situation, then why is that? Walmart is not locking them up permanently!

Again though, if you don’t want to shop at Walmart because of one case of somebody being locked up there 10 years ago, or a few other ‘unpaid overtime’ cases (among the basic bread and butter items of trial lawyers specializing in labor disputes, against all kinds of employers), then don’t. I think that pretty much goes without saying. The implied reasonable issue with Walmart is whether government coercion should be brought to bear. And in that context I’d frankly stick with ‘made up’ given the small scale of proven cases provided for an extremely large company.

*We spend more at Costco more than any other grocery or general item store, and as I said hardly shop at Walmart, which is new in the NY area and has no store that close to us. But you can’t directly compare Costco to Walmart. They have quite distinct business models and customer profiles. Costco’s is in particular less labor intensive: aiming in large part at a relatively upscale consumer who seeks value, and for many of the items, has the ready money and storage space to buy in bulk and stock up. Walmart in general (they do have their subsidiary Sam’s Club which more resembles Costco) aims at a distinctly lower economic strata in a more labor intensive ‘regular’ store model. It’s also just a way larger operation (when it comes to the typical auxiliary anti-Walmart/pro-Costco arguments like ‘Costco doesn’t overpay its CEO as much’; it’s a large company, but Walmart is huge company).