Labor Practices at Wal-Mart

Introduction

You have been hired as a high school job counselor. It is your job to coordinate prospective employers with students looking for work after school. Recently the nation's biggest retail employer Wal-Mart, called to ask if they can send a representative to your school to solicit applications from students.

Discovering that Wal-Mart is coming to the school several students, their parents and your teacher's union representative are upset. They want to prevent Wal-Mart from coming to the school. The principal and students seeking jobs want Wal-Mart to come to the school.

Confused about why people might be upset and still wanting to help students find jobs you decide to find out more about Wal-Mart in order to make an informed decision as to whether or not the company should come in contact with your students.

Task

Pretend you are a high school job counselor and write a position paper explaining why Wal-Mart is or is not a good place for students to work at.

  • Inspect the process section of this web page so you know how to stay on task


  • Use the resources below for information to use(Searching Yahoo or Google for hours will lead you to these same sites)


  • Remember to inspect the Evaluation section of this web page before and after you write your essay

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Process

Using the links below gather information for the report you need to write.

Be sure to answer the following questions in your essay remembering you are writing your report as if you are a high school job counselor.;

  • Who is Wal-Mart? What is the company's history and what is it about their "culture" - what kind of image do they portray?


  • What are labor conditions at Wal-Mart like? Be sure to speak about the store's 'Open-door' Policy.


  • What are the benefits some communities derive from Wal-Mart? -or- What criticisms have communities made against Wal-Mart and stores like it?


  • What has been happening at Wal-Mart that has brought attention to the way they treat their employees?


  • Is Wal-Mart a good place to work?

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Resources

Use these web sites to gather information

Find out about Wal-Mart from their web site. The Wal-Mart web site also features Student Research Information page. There are links from this page about the store's relations with communities, employment and labor relations.

A PBS report about Wal-Mart. Also feel free to check out the entire PBS site about Wal-Mart to get an idea about the controversies surrounding Wal-Mart and job creation.

Read an article from the New York Times about Wal-Mart employee complaints.

Wal-Mart Watch - a watchdog group monitoring the store, it's employees and customers - - a good source to analyze the company's actions. (This site has gone through major revisions and is upated regularly; you will need to go throught this site on your own to find suitable information).

A web site with many links chronicling labor strife at Wal-Mart around the world. This site includes a management handbook from Wal-Mart on how to handle unions. (This site has gone through major revisions and is upated regularly; you will need to go throught this site on your own to find suitable information).

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Evaluation (How you will be graded)

  • All essays must be typed according to the standards laid out in class - NO exceptions.


  • If you are not too sure about how to write an essay, the following link is a decent resource you can use to sprak your memory
  • The grade of your essay will be based on how well you follow this rubric.

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Conclusion

We are often taught in school that unions are a good thing and that since their rise in the United States people have had the opportunity to be treated fairly in the work place. But are unions good for business? Shouldn't Wal-Mart's 'Open-Door Policy' and those like it be given a fair chance to be practiced?

What thoughts do you have about the jobs you have had? Would a union be good or bad for it?

In our free enterprise system, what should be done about Wal-Mart and their employees' desires to be unionized?

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email Ken at kstein2@nycboe.net  
12/14/04