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Friday, June 7, 2013

Costco vs. Walmart: A Tale of Two Companies

Posted by on Fri, Jun 7, 2013 at 10:47 AM

More about Walmart's shitty employment practices, just in time for today's annual shareholder's meeting in Arkasas:

Garcia, 20, has worked in a warehouse since February 2012. Though she dreams of college, she struggles to get by on just $8 an hour, with no benefits. That means she has to take tough choices as she raises her two-year-old son, Christian. “Gas is so expensive. Sometimes I feel that I am only earning enough to pay for the gas that allows me to drive my car to my job,” she said. “I do not earn enough. I cannot survive like this.”

Garcia, whose warehouses packs goods for Walmart and other stores, has also been injured packing and unpacking goods. She was hit by two boxes—each containing three suitcases—and damaged her neck. “The pain was serious, but it was the end of the shift and no one offered to call an ambulance or to find out what had happened, so I drove myself to the hospital. I am supposed to go to therapy because there is still a lot of pain, but I can’t afford it and it’s not like the warehouse is going to pay for it,” she said.

Now she sometimes sees examples of the luggages that hit her on Walmart shelves. “I see the luggage that I move in the warehouse. They are selling it for a lot more than I get paid and treating me really bad,” she said.

Meanwhile, here's how Costco treats its workers, courtesy of Slog tipper Jaime:

Joe Carcello has a great job. The 59-year-old has an annual salary of $52,700, gets five weeks of vacation a year, and is looking forward to retiring on the sizable nest egg in his 401(k), which his employer augments with matching funds. After 26 years at his company, he’s not worried about layoffs. In 2009, as the recession deepened, his bosses handed out raises. “I’m just grateful to come here to work every day,” he says.

This wouldn’t be remarkable except that Carcello works in retail, one of the stingiest industries in America, with some of the most dissatisfied workers. On May 29, Wal-Mart Stores (WMT) employees in Miami, Boston, and the San Francisco Bay Area began a weeklong strike. (A Walmart spokesman told MSNBC the strike was a “publicity stunt.”) Workers at an (AMZN) fulfillment center in Leipzig, Germany, also recently held strikes to demand higher pay and better benefits. (An Amazon spokesman says its employees earn more than the average warehouse worker.) In its 30-year history, Carcello’s employer, Costco, has never had significant labor troubles.

Go read the whole thing.


Comments (20) RSS

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Zebes 1
Clearly the situation at Costco is untenable. If the workers aren't underpaid, in debt, and unhappy, and faced with all of the mounting consequences that brings, how can I feel suitably elevated over them? I'm tired of this company being so inconsiderate when it comes to my need to hate the working poor.

It's not meant to be a career, people!
Posted by Zebes on June 7, 2013 at 11:11 AM · Report this
Wouldn't "Sams Club" be more equivalent to the services Costco provides? Sure they're the same company, but in the distance for me to go to the nearest Costco, there's probably two or three Sams Club whereas there's probably a dozen Walmarts on the way.
Posted by Drew2u on June 7, 2013 at 11:14 AM · Report this
I went to Costco for the first time recently, and I was so surprised by the speed and efficiency of the checkout process that I made several comments to that effect to my shopping companion: "Is it always that efficient?", "Did you expect us to get through checkout that fast?", etc. It was very weird. He, on the other hand, was utterly unfazed. Apparently, membership does have its privileges.

Correlation or causation is anybody's guess. All I know is that the Costco shopping experience did not fit my preconceived notions.
Posted by stating the obvious on June 7, 2013 at 11:23 AM · Report this
The article made me want to go buy stuff at Costco.
Posted by Eric from Boulder on June 7, 2013 at 11:26 AM · Report this
chaseacross 5
@1: Like!

Costco is what capitalism will have to become if it's going to survive through the 21st century, much in the way that Ford brought capitalism into the 20th century by paying his workers enough to be able to afford the cars they were making.
Posted by chaseacross on June 7, 2013 at 11:31 AM · Report this
Supreme Ruler Of The Universe 6

Costco is a product of the suburbs, low density and the automobile.

These three modern technologies combine to create the Retail-Warehouse model of selling.

In the Retail-Warehouse model, private infrastructure -- the car -- provides the last mile of transportation from Costco warehouses, supplied by truck and train.

People have garages and trunks so not only can they shop in bulk -- but they can bring bulk home! If candy bars are on sale, they buy a pallet of candy bars. If olive oil is on sale, they buy 5 gallon bottles.

You can't bring 25 gallons of olive oil on a bus -- and a crib.

You need a car for that.

The car that 98% of Americans drive.

These things create wealth and an independent middle class.

The middle class that cities destroy. As re-urbanization occurred, class differences exacerbated.

Sprawl, cars, suburbs = widely distributed wealth.
Posted by Supreme Ruler Of The Universe on June 7, 2013 at 11:36 AM · Report this
keshmeshi 7

Do you think Sam's Club treats it workers better than Wal-Mart? Somehow I doubt it.


That Costco worker makes more than I do. Rage!
Posted by keshmeshi on June 7, 2013 at 11:45 AM · Report this
Is it that WalMart doesn't have Workers Comp insurance or is it that their workers don't know when their workplace injuries are covered. I'm not excusing rapacious capitalism here, but as a society we've struck a deal: Since you might get hurt at work we require employers to carry insurance, and in return for prompt payment for treatment of your workplace injuries you give up your right to sue your employer.

There are other deals - better deals, like single payor healthcare - that more civilized nations have struck, but at least we have this one, right?
Posted by JAT on June 7, 2013 at 11:54 AM · Report this
@#6: are you aware that you have no idea what you're talking about?
Posted by Merchant Seaman on June 7, 2013 at 12:09 PM · Report this
treacle 10
@8 - "Have" is a matter of awareness and ability to use said deal. I'm fairly sure that Mal*Wart encourages ignorance amongst its serfs.
Posted by treacle on June 7, 2013 at 12:19 PM · Report this
Schmapdi 11
A thriving company in America that's not shitting all over its workers? Shenanigans!

Posted by Schmapdi on June 7, 2013 at 12:22 PM · Report this
@9: I was assuming he was going on a Mudede-like flight of fancy that wasn't supposed to be taken seriously. I think he hit the mark pretty well.
Posted by MRM on June 7, 2013 at 12:31 PM · Report this
Catalina Vel-DuRay 13
But if you watch their commercials, you'll see that Firemen, Doctors, Engineers - all sorts of normal people, really - shop at Wal-Mart. And their employees are all working their way up into management, or getting advanced degrees through tuition reimbursement and store performance bonuses.

Costco, on the other hand, doesn't need to advertise on TV.
Posted by Catalina Vel-DuRay on June 7, 2013 at 12:33 PM · Report this
treacle 14
@9 - Shhh! Just let him be. He'll fall back asleep soon.
Posted by treacle on June 7, 2013 at 12:37 PM · Report this
walmart provides jobs and products for poor immigrants and costco provides products for pensioners and jobs for their children. so ; yeah those pensioners need more places to shop, lets turn walmart into costco
Posted by poetard on June 7, 2013 at 12:43 PM · Report this
Reverse Polarity 16
Yeah, Costco has its faults, but they have always treated their employees fairly well, particularly compared to other retailers. I've known several people that worked at Costco. Decent, though not extravagant pay. Pretty good health insurance, vacation, and other benefits. Nobody will get rich working at Costco, but you can make a decent livable living.

It's a good example to hold up to the people that complain that we can't possibly raise the minimum wage or it will drive companies out of business. Costco pays decent wages and benefits, and has managed to be profitable for years, good economy or bad. Fuck you Walmart.
Posted by Reverse Polarity on June 7, 2013 at 12:53 PM · Report this
That reminds me, I forgot to thank Costco for privatizing liquor in WA. I'll have to do that one of these days.
Posted by zooid on June 7, 2013 at 1:38 PM · Report this
balderdash 18
@6, it's almost as if an intrinsically broken system can incorporate elements that work well within its unsustainable but alluring framework - elements which might tempt a society to adopt a model that's bad for everyone in the long term because it promises ease and prosperity for the next couple of generations!

Posted by balderdash on June 7, 2013 at 2:34 PM · Report this
balderdash 19
@15, Keeping poor people poor is a major part of Wal-Mart's business model. They don't want their workers to have the opportunity to get better jobs and they don't want their customers to be able to afford to shop somewhere better. They roll into small communities and actively stamp out every local business so they can siphon all the wealth out of the town and keep everyone there dependent on them for cheap, low-quality, short-lifespan goods. So, yes, let's turn them into something that sucks less.
Posted by balderdash on June 7, 2013 at 2:43 PM · Report this
But what is Joe's title? Is he a manager? Did he work for years to get where he is? I'm sure he's not a warehouse worker making that amount. That's like saying Boeing is such a better company than Lockheed because the CEO of Boeing makes $5 million while a Lockheed Martin factory worker makes $40K. Ridiculous article to put it lightly.
Posted by Art Vandaley on June 28, 2013 at 2:44 AM · Report this

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