Why Costco is better than Wal-Mart
First, I should disclose that I am a big fan of Costco – even before I found out the things that have been reported lately. Costco is the closest thing to a corporate co-op surviving in the world, today. Wal-Mart on the other hand is a nasty, soulless place that I can not stand. And I have concrete reasons for feeling the way that I do.
Health Care Benefits:
According to In These Times Wal-Mart only insures 45% of its workforce:
“At Wal-Mart, full-time workers have to endure six months—and part-timers, two years—before applying for health coverage through the company. Wal-Mart told the New York Times in November that about 77 percent of its employees are eligible for health coverage through the company plan. But since Wal-Mart saddles its staff with 33 percent premiums, the coverage often costs more than $200 a month per worker to maintain—a steep price for workers making between $8 and $10 per hour. As a result, just 58 percent of those eligible, less than half of all workers, or about 537,000 people, actually have the insurance.”
It’s not just that these workers have no insurance it’s that their communities are having to pick up the bill for these people and their families:
“When Wal-Mart bows out on covering the healthcare costs of staff members, the public often picks up the tab. More than 10,000 Georgia children whose parents work at Wal-Mart are on a state health program, thus neatly passing on the $10 million yearly expense to state residents. And in California, taxpayers are footing the bill for about $32 million in healthcare costs from Wal-Mart workers that the employer would typically cover.”
I don’t care how inexpensive it is to purchase stuff at Wal-Mart. Their employment policies are too expensive for everyone else.
Costco is a much more responsible employer:
“Not all companies have torn up the social contract. Costco, a competitor in the large-scale retail business, provides insurance to more than 19 out of every 20 of its workers and pays more than 90 percent of the premium.”
Political Party Donations:
In the 2004 election cycle Wal-Mart’s contributions were split 80-20 in favor of the Republicans. Conversely, Costco had a 98-2 split favoring Democrats. Wal-Mart and its affiliated properties gave over $2 million while Costco donated only a little over $200,000. (Thanks to the Joe Spin Zone for the reference to choose the blue.)
They gave all of that money so, Wal-Mart can continue to intimidate its workers seeking to unionize in the US while the Chinese have forced Wal-Mart to have a workers’ union. Wal-Mart can continue with its unofficial policy to pay women less and offer poverty level pay and benefits packages. Even if you could buy a “refrigerator for $3” knowing that I was helping a company to succeed with its unfair practices isn’t worth it.