Earlier this spring, we were informed that there was a possibility that Wal-Mart stores might be built in Salamanca and Wellsville. At this point, I’ve not been able to verify where those plans stand as of now.
Salamanca Area Chamber of Commerce President Susan Zaprowski thought “it would be terrific”. Salamanca Planning Board Chairman Michael Zaprowski said, “We certainly could use a project like this.” Joe Roosa, one of the possible developers of the project, said “It will be good news for Salamanca”.
State Sen. Catharine Young, R-Olean, said, “I think it’s important to open up the area for development because of the positive economic benefits.”
Personally, I think that it would be just great … for Wal-Mart.
Much has been written and discussed about the Wal-Mart Corporation. The more I read and learn, the more I am concerned. Yes, our areas do need an economic boost, but is adding to Wal-Mart’s empire the best answer to our problems?
They have recently announced that they are cutting back a significant portion of full-time staff to part-time positions. This will happen in the next 12-18 months. And although they have recently “rolled out” various options for insurance plans for employees, those working part-time have a one-year waiting period for coverage, and it may prove difficult for them to afford the premium for their choice of insurance plan.
Wal-Mart recently announced that they will be raising their starting wages at over 1200 of their stores. However, what they also are instituting with this announcement are wage caps on positions throughout all of their stores. There are currently workers who are earning wages above these caps. Their wages will not be reduced; however, they will no longer be eligible for a wage raise, no matter how long they choose to continue working at Wal-Mart. (These current employees are not happy with this arrangement.) With the rising costs of insurance premiums, utilities, food, gas, etc., they are basically in a lose-lose situation from year to year. Wal-Mart indicates that employees are eligible to apply for management positions, but I ask you – how many management positions does Wal-Mart have to offer, and how many employees qualify or would want a management position?
And then, we have the economics of Wal-Mart:
… the firm is also one of the world’s most intrusive, jealous, fastidious micromanagers, and its aim is nothing less than to remake entirely how its suppliers do business, not least so that it can shift many of its own costs of doing business onto them. In addition to dictating what price its suppliers must accept, Wal-Mart also dictates how they package their products, how they ship those products, and how they gather and process information on the movement of those products. …
We should be most disturbed by the fact that Wal-Mart has gathered the power to dictate content, even to the most powerful of its suppliers. Because no longer is the retailer’s attention focused only on firms that produce T-shirts, electrical cords, and breakfast cereal. Every day Wal-Mart expands its share of the U.S. markets for magazines, recorded music, films on DVD, and books. This means that every day its tastes, interests, and peculiarities weigh that much more on decisions made in Hollywood studios, in Manhattan publishing houses, and in the editorial offices of newspapers and network news shows.
From The Wal-Mart Effect: How the World’s Most Powerful Company Really Works—and How It’s Transforming the American Economy:
… the Wal-Mart effect is the most powerful market force expelling jobs and technology from our own country. … At the same time, it forces American taxpayers to subsidize its low wages by transferring the cost of health insurance to government programs.
Do Wal-Mart start-ups in Salamanca and Wellsville still sound good to you? Surely there are other positive alternatives. Perhaps those who are enthusiastic about the possibility of Wal-Mart coming to their areas aren’t very familiar with Wal-Mart policies and “The Wal-Mart Effect”, or maybe their interests and priorities lie elsewhere.