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Who makes the real contribution

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I’ve written about it before, and will probably write about it again. Wal-Mart and many fast-food companies in our nation are part of the problem when it comes to welfare.

The last time I wrote about Wal-Mart’s treatment of employees there was a complaint that I was putting down the company that creates so many jobs year after year. The complaint stressed that Wal-Mart should be respected, not put down.

However, yet another study shows it’s companies like Wal-Mart and Wendy’s, among other fast-food establishments, that continue to contribute to our poverty problem, and take away from a badly-needed boost to the middle class.

According to a CNN Money report last week, the average Wal-Mart employee is making $9.40 an hour. The average Wendy’s employee is making $7.35. Then, we have Costco, which is paying its employees an average of $20 an hour.

Based on those numbers, I ask which company is actually making a contribution?

All of these major companies are Fortune 500 companies, yet, only one appears to be reinvesting some of those massive profits into their employees.

Besides the average $9.40 an hour, Wal-Mart has been protested continuously because they also take the part-time approach to employment. If an employee only works part time, the rich corporation isn’t required to pay all those benefits, and even if an employee is qualified for the health benefits offered, they can’t afford it.

Who pays for those employees of Wal-Mart to get medical care? If you’re confused by that question –we do. All the talk about Medicaid expansion and the Arizona Healthcare Cost Containment System being a bad thing - remember this, when our richest corporations are not only allowed, but encouraged to treat workers as they do – the expansions are always going to be needed because no one can afford to live without assistance.

We have some politicians wanting to constantly cut AHCCCS, food stamps and other programs, but never seem to want to point the finger as the large companies that are only contributing to the problem.

Saying Wal-Mart has no choice is also no excuse. Look at Costco. Not only are employees taken care of, but they are also offered full benefits, and they are offered a 401(k) to plan for future retirement.

As the CNN report stated, Costco’s approach may be a lot more effective as well because taking care of employees means having a much more motivated, productive staff.

MIT Sloan School of Management professor Zeynep Ton, who focuses on operations management, said “How many times have you gone to a store, and the shelves are empty or the checkout line is too long, or employees are rude? At Costco, you see a huge line that disappears in minutes.”

Costco productivity turns into sales. According to Ton’s research, sales per employee at Costco were almost double those at Sam’s Club, its direct warehouse competitor owned by Wal-Mart.

It’s no surprise that fast-food workers, and Wal-Mart employees are walking off the job and crossing picket lines. The only hope is that as more and more continue to do so, something will be done to benefit the employees.

The hard truth, however, is lawmakers and many others truly believe that because year after year companies like Wal-Mart say they have a lot of employees, it must mean they are great for the economy. In reality, they contribute to the working class, but they contribute more to middle-class taxpayers having to pick up the slack when it comes to our money being spent to help Wal-Mart employees get food stamps and medical benefits from social programs.

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