Major corporations dismiss employee well being, ignore local businesses

by: Heidi Krick, Staff Writer, hrick@unca.edu

National chain shopping causes economic complications.

This holiday season, support local stores that actually respect their customers and employees, rather than buying from the major shopping centers.

Wal-Mart, Sears, Target, Macy’s and J.C. Penney are among the top 12 companies in America paying their employees the least amount of money, according to information from the National Law Employment Report.  While employees of these companies struggle to pay their bills with minimum wage paychecks, the executives of the same companies are taking home millions of dollars each year.  Spending money with these companies only widens the gap between the rich and the poor, and Americans need to make that gap a little bit smaller.

Multibillion dollar corporations employ more than two-thirds of Americans earning low wages.  Several of the companies listed in the Top 12 are also consistently under fire for questionable labor practices.

A vast majority of American employees are constantly fighting against unsafe or unhealthy working conditions, long hours, limited benefits or restriction to full-time hours.  Supporting these companies says the rest of America not only supports these conditions, but also encourages them.

Wal-Mart is rated No.1 in the top 12 companies paying their employees the least amount of money.  Wal-Mart employs nearly 1.5 million minimum wage Americans in 3,868 stores across the United States.  According to the National Law Employment report, Wal-Mart profited more than $15 billion dollars last year.  Wal-Mart paid its CEO $18,131,738 during the same year, and the rest of Wal-Mart’s executives saw paychecks just as high.  With these kinds of profits and such an extreme pay scale, Wal-Mart is absolutely able to better compensate their employees, but the company just simply chooses otherwise.

Shopping locally is incredibly important.  Not only will shopping locally show the multibillion dollar corporations that Americans will not tolerate any company taking advantage of its employees, it will maintain that the money spent will stay within the community.

The website e-Local estimates when an individual shops with local stores, about 65 percent of the revenue is reinvested into the local community, compared to about 34 percent of the revenue reinvested locally by national chains.

A study in Austin, Texas, found $100 spent at a local bookstore produced $45 of local reinvestment.  $100 spent at a national chain bookstore only produced about $13.  Shopping with national stores sends a lot of your money out of state and into the bank accounts of corporate executives who are already receiving huge paychecks.

The local economy struggles when people spend their money elsewhere.  According to e-Local, shifting just 10 percent of the average American city’s spending from national chains to local stores would bring in an additional $235 million per year to the city’s economy.  Shopping at national chains drastically limits the success of American cities.  With local economies missing out on so much money, local stores have absolutely no way to compete with major national chains.

Chain companies also reduce the number of jobs available in American cities.  Opening a single Wal-Mart reduces retail employment by 150 retail jobs in that county.  When so many Americans are looking for work, the public must recognize that shopping in places like Wal-Mart only encourages these job losses.

Americans need to realize that many of their actions and decisions are a part of the country’s problems.  The public demands change and better opportunity, while at the same time refuses to acknowledge much of that change will have to come from effort on the part of every American.

Corporations like Wal-Mart have purposefully taken over holiday shopping with gimmicks like Black Friday because the money goes right to their corporate bank accounts.

Wal-Mart, Target and other companies involved in the hurricane of holiday shopping seem to make spending easier because shoppers find several extreme deals all in one place.  However, the consequences to corporate spending far outweigh the benefits, and Americans must realize their shopping habits only contribute to these problems.

Shopping locally is necessary in order to guarantee economic growth and success in America.  Shopping locally also builds a sense of pride within a community, of which every American city could undeniably use more.

The American public must now fight back against the major chains, no longer accepting that bargain prices are worth indecent pay and poor working conditions for retail workers, no longer worth the expense of their city’s own economic success.  Spending a couple dollars more is worth the investment made within the local economy.

 

 

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