Jonathan Tasini at Working Life points to a good story in today's New York Times about growing pressure on Wal-Mart to take the high road on wages and benefits for its workers. Some of the highlights:
Wal-Mart critics often note that corporations like Ford and G.M. led a race to the top, providing high wages and generous benefits that other companies emulated. They ask why Wal-Mart, with some $10 billion in profit on about $288 billion in revenue last year, cannot act similarly.
Many of those assailing Wal-Mart argue that the company can, and should, pay its workers at least $2 more an hour and add $1 or $2 an hour beyond that to improve its health benefits. A Harvard Business School study found that Wal-Mart paid $3,500 a year for each employee for health care, while the typical American corporation paid $5,600.
If Wal-Mart spent $3.50 an hour more for wages and benefits of its full-time employees, that would cost the company about $6.5 billion a year. At less than 3 percent of its sales in the United States, critics say, Wal-Mart could absorb these costs by slightly raising its prices or accepting somewhat lower profits.
It's true that Wal-Mart family heirs have dropped from the list of the 10 richest people in the world -- they now merely make the top 15 -- but I still vote for "accepting somewhat lower profits."