Why I Do What I Do

This video was made in 2005.  It details many of WalMart's unethical business practices.  Among them, the company blatantly pollutes drinking water lines; puts small town grocers and hardware store owners out of business by, more or less, bribing city, county, and state governments to give WalMart tax breaks and startup grant money; discriminating against women and minorities; and not paying workers for off the clock time.  These practices allow WalMart to minimize operating expenses and create a monopoly.

Most of my practice concerns the employment violations:  discrimination and off the clock work.

The video addresses FLSA lawsuits against WalMart for some of the most eggregious actions an employer could possibly take against its employees.  WalMart, rather than hiring sufficient staff to perform the tasks necessary for serving its clientele, barely pays its workers minimum wage to "cram" 45 hours worth of work into a 40 hour workweek.  When employees exceed the 40 hour limit, they're told to only report 40 hours.  If employees are honest about working more than 40 hours, they're either fired, or their managers only pay them for 40 hours, despite the fact that they've worked more.  Employees who can't get the work done in under 40 hours, on a regular basis, are fired.  This is illegal.  In fact, it's exactly the kind of activity that minimum wage laws like the FLSA were created to prevent. 

In addition, this behavior is detrimental to the economy.  It short changes workers (read: consumers), stifling demand, and it puts honest grocers and retailers out of business, as demonstrated in the video.  They can't compete with cheaters like WalMart, and if they, themselves, cheat, the penalty is enough to effectively put them out of business.  One way or the other, WalMart is rewarded for breaking the law.

The discrimination segment is equally appalling.  Simply put, WalMart offered no realistic opportunity for advancement for women and minorities, and also paid them less than their white male counterparts. 

The company takes advantage of Americans who don't have the bargaining power of urban, college educated workers.  It exploits them by paying them less money, promising them a better life but never delivering it, and this behavior is reinforced by management that ubiquitously threatens labor with the prospect of replacing them with other workers willing to put up with the abuse.

We don't live in a perfect world, but I strongly believe that Americans who want to work should be able to find meaningful employment, that they should be taken care of by their employers, and receive an honest day's pay for an honest day's work.  Without people to fight back against illegal practices like those shown in the video, there would be nothing to stand in the way of companies and people who do what WalMart was doing.  It's why I do what I do.