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The Needs of Business

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'Just last week, news agency Reuters reported that at a time when our country needs all the solid, stable jobs it can produce, the non-union retail giant Wal-Mart (with $443 billion in net sales in 2012, the largest private employer in the United States) "has in recent months been only hiring temporary workers."

'Wal-Mart U.S. Chief Executive William Simon, whose total compensation in 2011 was a staggering $14,054,824, put his spin on the company's move: "(Workers') hours flex by the needs of the business from time to time," he told reporters the day before Wal-Mart's annual meeting, making clear that his top priority is widening the profit margin. Strengthening the working and lower-middle class is not the Wal-Mart way. "The needs of the business" are the Wal-Mart way.

'As if to nail down that point, Reuters observed that Wal-Mart's embrace of an unstable temporary workforce could set an example for some other companies as they look for ways to cushion themselves from a potential rise in health care costs next year." Is it any surprise the company that refuses to sign a legally binding agreement ensuring worker safety in Bangladesh is perplexed by the prospect of paying more to provide health care to its U.S. employees?'

Lee A. Saunders, president,
American Federation of State,
County, and Municipal
Employees, AFL-CIO