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We continue to get email about the Southern California labor situation and Wal-Mart's role in it.

MNB user Xavier Noblat wrote:

The main question I have after reading everything is this: How does Wal-Mart keep the unions out ? If they are paying there people only $8.50/hr vs. $13.00/hr and the health benefits are less than those of the unions, then what does Wal-Mart offer to there employees to keep them happy and non union ??? It seems to me that the UFCW could walk in and offer a more substantial package to those employees at Wal-Mart and get them signed up. It doesn't pencil out.

Another MNB user wrote:

The face-off is over the union's desire to preserve or improve current wage and benefit packages, while the chains are looking for a wage freeze, cuts to health and pension benefits for current employees and a substantially lower wage and benefit package for new hires.”

Looks like a house divided…or a wildebeest who isn’t taking the stalking lion seriously. Come on, folks, striking may have worked in times past, but now it’s just something that weakens your company while Wal-Mart busily builds in your backyard. Find a better way. Fast.

And another MNB user wrote:

You are correct when you say that Wal-Mart is not to be blamed for problems with the grocery industry.

The major retailers say they are taking away customers, the unions say that they are bringing down employees benefits. From all reports Wal-Mart takes away just a small amount of business from the grocery stores.

What they do have is the ability to buy in mass quantities and can offer cheaper prices, but wasn't that the reason Steve Burd set up centralized buying, to be able to buy in bulk?

The strikes could end now if there was a little give and take but the BIG THREE have decided to make a stand.

I doubt that employees would mind if they were asked to "help contribute" to their healthcare along with what the company pays but they are being asked to now to "fully pay and fund it."

MNB user Steve Grossman wrote:

Even though I am not a Wal-Mart fan, I do recognize and applaud many things that Sam Walton has set in motion over the years.

I was at a rep conference in September and we had a speaker, Jim Harris, talking about where business is going. He has written a book called "Blindsided" that can be ordered thru Amazon.

It takes the increasing speed of business today and puts it in a perspective that an average guy or gal can handle. It is well worth the time and money invested to read it.

Another MNB user wrote:

I continue to read w/interest the views on how Wal-Mart affects the retail industry. Since most input seems to emphasize the consumer side,

I would like to reiterate the differences, as a manufacturer, between Wal-Mart and the rest of the grocery retailers. Firstly, they are more efficient in every aspect of the business because their goal is to make their money at the cash register, not in the buy. By the time other chains/wholesalers get done picking their vendor's pockets, the chains/wholesalers have no incentive to sell. Manufacturers don't pay slotting to Wal-Mart; manufacturers don't pay for ads; manufacturers don't pay for trip programs; manufacturers don't pay for coupon books; manufacturers don't pay for signage at golf tournaments; and on and on and on.

Wal-Mart's unrivaled on-line management system, RetailLink, is free to the manufacturer. Just learn how to use it and then use it; the amount of information they share is unbelievable. Fleming used to charge thousands/year for the privilege of using their Visionet, which was a joke compared to RetailLink. One of the giant drug chains has just "offered" us the privilege of paying thousands to sign up and then hundreds/month to use their on-line management system.

For other chains/wholesalers, every tool that could be used to sell product is just another profit center for them. Until they wake up and finally get the picture (if it isn't too late by then), their share will continue to erode, and they will have no one to blame but themselves.
KC's View: