Skip Walmart this season: with strikes over employee benefits, speak with your dollar

So there may be some of you who are aware of it, along with those who don’t know — or simply don’t care — but many Walmart workers have been striking for the Holiday season.

There’s been a lot political rhetoric being tossed around on both political sides, some of it amounting to “get back to work peons,” and some congratulating them for having the courage to stand up against a massive corporate power to improve working conditions.

The simple fact is if you have ever had the joy of working retail, Walmart is an abysmal place to work, worse than even standard retail — if you can imagine that.

As to why you should care, I’ve decided to put out a challenge to CSU students this year to avoid shopping at Walmart this shopping season. Personally, I will be respecting the workers of Walmart and avoiding it until they decided to start paying their workers living wages, but here’s some good reasons why you should consider doing the same.

The Harvard Business Review compares the average hourly wage of Costco workers with Walmart workers, whose wage typically falls around $11.52, which includes everyone from the lowest of the low to the highest of the high in Walmart stores. While that may not seem that bad, I’ll make the popular comparison using the relatively altruistic sister of Walmart, Costco, who pays its workers on average $15.97.

A blog, using data revealed by Rep. George Miller, shows that only 64 percent of workers in Walmart are covered by their retirement plan as compared to Costco’s 94 percent and only 47 percent of Walmart employees are covered by their health plan against Costco’s 82 percent. At the same time Costco undeniably has higher costs per employee with Costco employees paying $2,200 more annually for health care and around $600 more for retirement.

So what you may be thinking is that this is just a human error, perhaps Costco has simply tricked its workers into paying more and the employees all hate it, but statistically, this is once again not the case. Costco employees have a 6 percent turnaround rate compared to Walmart’s 21 percent. Their profits per employee are also significantly higher, making about $2,500 more per employee.

The simple answer to as why Costco has been more successful and now growing faster than Walmart is because it treats its employees with dignity. James Sinegal, the co-founder and former CEO of Costco was even criticized by Wall Street for being “too generous” to his workers. While the good wages and benefits Costco offers its employees do not always please the stockholders, the employees are consistently happier with their jobs.

I was reluctant to include this last part because I personally think if you’re going to boycott Walmart you should do it on the principle that it treats its workers to poorly, but if you want a right wing reason to support the boycott, Walmart workers are the highest receivers of welfare benefits of any store chain.

An average of $420,000 worth of government benefits is received from Walmart workers per store, because even many full time Walmart workers make as little as $15,500 a year, which is not a living wage. To steal a catchphrase: “You are paying for what Wally should.”

When you go shopping this season, ask what kind of philosophy you want to support in business.

You can support a local business, you can support a Costco, or you can support any other business that actually cares about its workers, or you can support a machine that actively tries to crush unions so they can milk their workers for what they’re worth then throw them out like last week’s trash.

Speak with your dollar this season and show Walmart how you feel about their business practices.