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Crafty Wal-Mart ensnares veteran workers

Tim Sanders, Contributor
January 30, 2013
Filed under Opinion

Notorious for questionable business practices, uber-magnate Wal-Mart is once again toeing a thin line. With recent accusations of an international bribery scheme with Mexican officials, it comes as no surprise that the oversized bully is once again attempting to convey positive business practices.

According to FOX News, the company, who currently employs 1.4 million workers in the U.S. alone, announced its plans to hire 100,000 new workers over the next five years.

Wal-Mart also revealed these new hires will be military veterans. Although this appears to be a large aid for a struggling economy, in reality it only reveals more dubious business practices.

The timing of Wal-Mart’s hiring intentions couldn’t be any more convenient. In April of 2012, Wal-Mart enticed Mexican officials for the rights to build large centers in prime locations, according to CNBC. The alleged deals, which exceed $24 million, include one large payout of $52,000 to alter a zoning map. Apparently Wal-Mart executives found a need for a super center on the ancient Teotihuacan ruins, an area roughly 30 miles northeast of Mexico City that was established around 100 B.C.

Going well beyond its ignorance regarding The Foreign Corrupt Policies Act of 1977, which prohibits such enticement, Wal-Mart is obviously deploying this employment release as a smokescreen. The main reason is likely due to the Obama administration’s clear message that they plan to adhere to the policies set forth in the FCPA.

The website acc.com, a legal resource publication, announced the administration has vowed to double the U.S.’s exports over the next five years. Due to this drastic increase in exports, the government has pledged to handle violations of the FCPA very seriously.

In 2010 alone, 51 people were indicted, convicted, sentenced or are awaiting sentencing for violating the FCPA.  Although the FCPA carries a maximum penalty of $25 million for willful violations — a mere two hours of Wal-Mart’s revenue — it also carries prison sentences of up to 25 years for individuals.

So, how can the addition of 100,000 new jobs to a struggling economy be bad news? The answer has two parts: health care and wages.

Wal-Mart is already known for hiring mostly part-time workers. In doing so, Wal-Mart saves money by not offering benefits such as health care. The addition of veterans to Wal-Mart’s workforce clearly shows their intentions only include doing what is best for them.

In hiring veterans, Wal-Mart can once again evade providing health care to its workers. According to the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs, the VA offers health care to military veterans who do not have other means for coverage. They are not saving armed forces veterans. They are hiring those who will require the least cost to employ.

Perhaps Wal-Mart needs to direct some of that bribery money toward health care to its under-appreciated associates.

Worst of all, Wal-Mart has perhaps become a force too large to influence. According to Businessweek.com, Wal-Mart has annual revenue around $245 billion, with an average of 138 million shoppers visiting stores every week.

Last year, 82 percent of households bought something from a Wal-Mart location. This resulted in an estimated $20 billion in savings for the U.S. alone. Some estimates in total savings exceed $100 billion, mostly due to Wal-Mart’s influence forcing competition to cut prices.

With savings that run so deep, shopping at Wal-Mart is nearly impossible to avoid. One could go so far to call it foolish to shun. It’s hard to envision corruption and low-wages when counting the dollars saved on a receipt.

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