In a sloppy op-ed in yesterday’s Washington Post, Eugene Robinson attempts to shift the blame for Wal-Mart’s anti-worker, anti-union policies onto people who shop there — especially liberals that criticize the company. Robinson’s theory is that most of the people who shop at Wal-Mart have other options but choose to shop at there anyway. The only proof he offers is that whenever he shops at Costco he runs into a “highly compensated professional of the liberal persuasion.”
First, if he want to defend the company, Robinson should do more than relay his experiences on weekend shopping trips. Second, there are a lot of differences between Costco and Wal-Mart.
- Costco pays its workers much better than Wal-Mart. The average wage at Costco is $15.97, compared to $9.84 at Wal-Mart.
- Costco provides its workers with better benefits. Costco “shells out thousands more a year [than Wal-mart] for workers’ health and retirement and includes more of them in its health care, 401(k), and profit-sharing plans.”
- 1/5 of Costco workers are unionized. There are no unionized Wal-Mart workers in the United States.
Wal-Mart tries to paint its critics as anti-business. But Costco – which outperforms Sam’s Club, its direct competitor owned by Wal-Mart – proves “with enough smarts, companies can help consumers and workers alike.”