Wall Mart: Management- Employee Relations:
I confess, I love Wall Mart. In a small town rural environment, this “comprehensive” shopping and service provider provides quality, selection, and vital commodities that are otherwise unavailable, and provides an interactive personal experience that is vital to this small community. Those jobs, part-time or otherwise, sustain my neighbors and I can obtain amazing deals if I shop carefully, and often wait for seasonal changes, where greater discounts make quality products affordable to me on my limited income.
I support workers rights, and Unionization is sometime the only answer available, when Management and Corporate “governance” styles and choices are inflexible. However, I have personally witnessed the Union “authoritarian” abuse created by empowering a union “representational” authority that than also “usurps” the natural alliances that are required for effective and stable working environments. These unions also attain Political power, that claims to represent each member politically, and uses Membership dues to support an entirely “unregulated” (by the employees) Political agenda. In California, we witnessed-for example-the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors, budgeting millions yearly to increase Union Public Sector retirees healthcare benefits by subsidies that were never contractually obligated, and that took revenue from our parkways and library hours. It became a way to “purchase” Public Sector voter support and became de facto policy because “it had been done that way for years” so this became a form of extralegal “policy”. These Supervisors would similarly benefit after their own retirement. One man, the father of a retired “firefighter” explained to me, that his son-now retired in Riverside, had worked “the line” for many years, thus getting that pension- and than became union management and negotiator. He retired making more (for life) than he had ever earned while “working”. The father was ashamed. Such abuses are well entrenched in the California Public Pension rules and laws. Our termed out Legislators are “given” high income positions on various “Boards” that meet minimal hours per month-sometimes 1 meeting per month, if they even have it, and continue to accrue income and a secondary Pension that adds to their Legislative pensions they have
“entitlement” to. I support evaluation of management and “business” needs, and a “workers” needs assessment and skilled liaison, to optimize both aspects of a functioning business community. Our current Union concept however, is strictly aligned with “the workers’, and may usurp Ownership and Management authority-and it creates and maintains an “us versus them” model of relationship. I would therefore not support Unionization at Wall Mart using the common practices model. I would support an alternative form of “resolution” and continuing ongoing assessments, designed to create benefits for all the Corporate bodies. Let me give one example, of how Management “investment” in individual creativity, can benefit employees, customers, society, and Wall Mart.
Wall Mart “invests”, with pensions, perks, vacations, in-services, and other compensation-a skilled and “lifetime” Management team. My local Manager spoke with me for about one hour, when I addressed a minor concern over “unlawful” restriction on the quantity of sinus-pain medicine available for purchase at one time. I use the “Dayquil” generic equivalent to treat my chronic c-spine pain, and this artificial restriction imposes unnecessary travel on me. I also wanted to commend several employees whose performance was exemplary. Management generally hears only the consumer complaints, and with potential employee reductions, I do try to notify managers of the qualities of these dedicated and skilled employees, so that they shall retain their jobs, if cuts are necessary-and so that management investment, and a career path, might be considered for them in the future. This is a part of “living systems” feedback, and my obligation to support those who exceed the common performance. I discovered a “fatalistic” mind-set, in this lovely man, as he could not imagine that Corporate “could” be notified of this issue, nor that they would respond. This is a Corporate Management problem. They have created the disempowerment of this skilled and dedicated Manager, and stopped “solutionism” and creativity by those most able to identify resources and deficiencies. I thank Dow chemical for the liberty to use this beautiful “new” term-a noun, that has become an active (verb) form of the word, solution.
Because I am a techno idiot, and relatively poor, I used a Trac Phone, and needed the skills of the “Media Center” employees to download my re-supply of minutes. Over many months, while enlisting tech support in computer supplies, telephone equipment, audio headsets, and the quality of the TV and other excellent products available, I discovered several things. These specific employees are required to possess significant skills to best serve the Consumers, but they have no educational “track” that mentors them, nor additional economic pay, which higher levels of skills should generate. I noted that one young man, who so eagerly desired to work in the Tech environment, had to voluntarily “hang out” when duties permitted, to observe-but not directly obtain hands on discussion, education or participatory training-in his self selection of this product sales department. This is how the creative qualities of the individual can be beneficially captured-and I suggested some means whereby these skilled employees could than offer their own model that supports employee training investment to Corporate. Work Locally, Think Nationally-and thus Perform Globally. These employees, if they have Corporate “receptivity” to their creation-through multiple Store liaisons via internet and shared experience-and assisted by perhaps local skilled college educators, can develop highly functional systems, that promote an efficient and effective training model. They are worth more, and must receive additional compensation, and possibly a retention preference. They love their employment and their Employer. They can actually do far more. Local Stores receive the items back that are defective, or of “poor” design or unsatisfactory. Wall Mart maintains a great return policy-but does not capture the benefit of the data that these returns, or consumer complaints or suggestions generate. My first discussion was when I needed another new set of headphones. My favorite employee carefully listened, as I described the design defect, of this overseas manufactured product, and the common flaw that has required multiple re-purchases. The headset “junction” wire is extremely fine and friable, and apparently designed to easily break, where it inserts from the wire casing into the “headset” component. It is impossible to realistically repair, and thus supports, through obsolescence, repeat purchases. This is a Trade “subsidy” that Americans can stop, with Wall Mart’s power of the economics of scale purchases. Furthermore, these skilled hands on employees, with others can be educated to better advise the Corporate Purchasing Department, who should also utilize Electronics and Radio staff to trial products, to test quality, durability, costs, and the “indirect” social costs of transshipping almost all Tech-(phones, TV’s, radio’s, computers) and components from China and Korea and elsewhere. Wall Mart is ideally positioned to actively support “MADE IN AMERICA”, BY AND FOR AMERICANS” the Products that create multiple manufacturing jobs, but also maintain vital skills, and knowledge of process, product and sciences-that we have largely lost. We have been assured we are a “consumer” economy, and much of those consumer jobs are actually Government services such as municipal authorities, police, fire fighters-and medical and pharmaceutical therapeutics, food service hairdressers, hand the “backbone” businesses that serve our daily lives. So, although I apparently was very negative in my discussion of Wall Mart, while trying to explain or explore the many issues that confront all Nations in this Global economy, they can greatly assist our Nation, and other Nations on a sustainable and ecologically appropriate path to development. I would support a new form of employee-employer systems development-a flexible, and highly skilled team that can create new “relationships” that harvest the very good practices that Wall Mart has successfully developed, but support employee retention and development, and enlist the American consumer in the support of USA manufacturing. I feel certain that we would all communally benefit-including manufacturing in China and Korea, this better business model. Services that require labor will always be higher in developed Nations, as the costs cannot be reduced to subsistence levels. It represents an unfair advantaging of Big Store and other industries, as We the People literally subsidize, through our common taxes, the life sustaining resources that they do not currently provide. The path forward cannot be one of mutual antagonism, which may be the greatest defect currently forcing Corporate and “Conservative” destruction of Union efforts. These efforts are misguided, as they have not admitted that these effective subsidies are being given to the largest retailer, and the wealthiest owners on the planet. Current “thinking’ models are defective-no one is right, because “everyone” is wrong in this new world model.