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Sunday, October 10, 2010

The Nation of Wal-Mart



How do you know when a company is a major player in the global economy vs simply being a Big & Successful corporation?  Simple- by how often the company is in the news.

Here are some headlines involving Wal-Mart in the past 4 weeks- from mid Sept. until today, October 10:

Wal-Mart Ends Profit Sharing With Employees-  "Wal-Mart Stores Inc., the nation's largest private employer, plans to end automatic profit-sharing contributions for its employees in a revamp of its benefits package... The discounter will replace profit-sharing starting in February with retirement plan contributions of up to 6 percent of pay -- as long as workers sign up and contribute an equal amount... Wal-Mart started profit sharing in 1971. It has 1.4 million employees in the U.S. and annual revenue worldwide of about $400 billion, most from its U.S. stores."- AP (Oct 9)


Quebec Wal-Mart Workers Get Rare Union Deal- "Workers at a Wal-Mart store in Gatineau, Que., have won a new collective agreement, only the second at any Wal-Mart store in North America... The collective agreement gives employees a grievance process, recognizes statutory holidays and considers seniority in determining working hours. Wages will go up 30 cents an hour this year, and another 30 cents next year. None of the employees, however, would say how much an hour they make now."- CBC News (Oct 8)

Midnight Grocery Runs Capture Economic Desperation- "Once a month, just after midnight, the beeping checkout scanners at a Wal-Mart just off Interstate 95 (in Fredricksburg VA) come alive in a chorus of financial desperation. Here and at other grocery stores across the country, the chimes come just after food stamps and other monthly government benefits drop into the accounts of shoppers who have been rationing items such as milk, ground beef and toilet paper and can finally stock up again. Shoppers mill around the store after 11 p.m., killing time until their accounts are replenished. When midnight strikes, they rush for the checkout counter."-  AP (Oct 6)

Wal-Mart, Humana Form Drug Plan- "The world's biggest retailer and health insurer Humana are teaming up to offer a low-cost Medicare Part D prescription drug plan. Wal-Mart and Humana's plan will have a premium of $14.80 per month, which the companies say is the lowest premium for any stand-alone national plan in 2011." - Investors' Business Daily  (Oct 1)

Wal-Mart's Prices Rise to Highest in Two Years- "The cost of a 31-item basket of goods at a Wal-Mart in Virginia was $95.75, a 2.7 percent increase from August and a 5 percent gain from the start of 2010, analyst Charles Grom said today in a report. The price is the most since the New York- based analyst began the survey in January 2009.  Prices for produce climbed as Wal-Mart offered almost no discounts on food last month"- BusinessWeek (Sept 30)

Wal-Mart to Increase Headcount 36% to 3 Million in Five Years-  "New employees will be hired “mostly” outside the U.S., Susan Chambers, executive vice president for human resources, said in a speech at a conference in New Delhi today. “The opportunity for growth is not just in India but global,” she said, without providing more details on the hiring plans"- Bloomberg (Sept 30) 

Wal-Mart Bids for S. African Retailer- "Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is offering to buy South African retailer Massmart Holdings Ltd. for about $4.25 billion in a bid to jump-start growth beyond its sluggish US business. A deal would give the world’s largest retailer an opening to expand in South Africa, which has a fast-growing economy but is troubled by high crime and a 24 percent unemployment rate. It also has a heavily unionized workforce."- AP (Sept 28)
Wal-Mart Spent $1.43 Million in 2Q Lobbying- "Wal-Mart Stores Inc, the world's largest retailer, spent $1.43 million lobbying in the second quarter on a wide range of issues from organized crime to food safety as well as childhood hunger issues, according to a recent disclosure report. That's below the $1.93 million spent in the first quarter of 2010 and below the $2.03 million spent in the second quarter of 2010."- AP (Sept 21)

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