Is Wal-Mart a Good Employer or Exploiting Workers?


Judith Spanier, a plaintiff’s attorney and partner at Abbey, Spanier, Rodd & Abrams, told CNBC’s “Power Lunch” that Wal-Mart’s workers “have no voice except for litigation.”

But Aliza Herzberg, a partner at Olshan, Grudman, Frome, said prospective workers routinely flood Wal-Mart with job applications when a new store opens, including 25,000 people who applied for 400 jobs in Evergreen, Ill.

“The only thing that Wal-Mart fights harder than class certification of lawsuits is the unionization of its workers,” Spanier said Friday. “Wal-Mart’s efforts against unions, against what it refers to as ‘third- party representation,’ are endless and hard fought. They’ll close a store if they think the union has even the most remote chance of succeeding rather than permitting union organization.”

She said Wal-Mart employees leave the company as soon as possible for other jobs and it makes an effort to keep most workers as part-timers. She charged that Wal-Mart tries to weed out unhealthy workers that might over use the company’s health insurance, driving up costs.

“Wal-Mart is a unique employer where all the employees make over $10 an hour when the minimum wage is $7.15,” Herzberg said. “Wal-Mart provides health insurance for every employee at low cost. Wal-Mart provides employees opportunities to rise in the ranks. There are many people without high school diplomas making six-figure salaries.”

She said it’s not unusual for a retailer to oppose unionization of its workforce.

“What are the unions looking for?” Herzberg said. “A lottery ticket – essentially 1.3 million (workers) paying union dues. Wal-Mart is a hugely deep pocket. I don’t think it’s that different from other companies (in its labor relations) except that it’s much larger.”