Costco: the anti-Walmart

You won’t find Costco employees having to rely on food stamps and other taxpayer-subsidized programs like health care and housing, subsidies which Walmart employees must use. Costco is a net positive for any community, with employees who can afford to actually add to their local economies and support growth — Costco is the antithesis of Walmart and the greedy plutocrats who own it.

“But not everyone is happy with Costco’s business strategy. Some Wall Street analysts assert that Mr. Sinegal is overly generous not only to Costco’s customers but to its workers as well.

Costco’s average pay, for example, is $17 an hour, 42 percent higher than its fiercest rival, Sam’s Club. And Costco’s health plan makes those at many other retailers look Scroogish. One analyst, Bill Dreher of Deutsche Bank, complained last year that at Costco “it’s better to be an employee or a customer than a shareholder.”

Mr. Sinegal begs to differ. He rejects Wall Street’s assumption that to succeed in discount retailing, companies must pay poorly and skimp on benefits, or must ratchet up prices to meet Wall Street’s profit demands.

Good wages and benefits are why Costco has extremely low rates of turnover and theft by employees, he said. And Costco’s customers, who are more affluent than other warehouse store shoppers, stay loyal because they like that low prices do not come at the workers’ expense. “This is not altruistic,” he said. “This is good business.”

He also dismisses calls to increase Costco’s product markups. Mr. Sinegal, who has been in the retailing business for more than a half-century, said that heeding Wall Street’s advice to raise some prices would bring Costco’s downfall…”

— How Costco Became the Anti-Wal-Mart – New York Times

image: recall-all-republicans-2012


Low wage, part time jobs are key to Romney’s claims of job creation “success”

Low-wage, part-time Staples jobs are Romney’s go-to example of job creation ‘success’

Mitt Romney often champions the success of retail chain Staples as one of his main qualifications for the presidency. Here are some facts about the nearly 90,000 jobs Romney likes to say he helped create at Staples:

  • 41 percent are part-time jobs.
  • Hourly wages for sales associates are less than $9 an hour.
  • Retail salespeople make about $20,670 a year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which is lower than the federal poverty line for a family of four.
  • Staples describes its own workforce this way: “Many of our associates, particularly in retail stores, are in entry-level or part-time positions with historically high rates of turnover.”
  • Staples has been listed by the National Employment Law Project as one of the 50 largest low-wage employers in the country.
  • In 1987, a year after Staples was founded, there were 13,347 office supply stores across the country. Ten years later that number was cut in half, to just 6,178 office supply stores.
  • When Staples was founded in 1986, the market share of small and medium-sized sellers of office supplies was 20 percent. By 1998, it had plunged to just four percent.
  • The market share of large superstores, meanwhile, shot up from less than one percent to 20 percent during that same period.

Read more about Romney’s job creation record at Staples — including our interview with Staples founder Tom Stemberg — on our website.

Mitt Romney wants you to have the freedom to work 3 or 4 of these jobs all at once. He’s fightin’ for the middle-class! 

And remember: unions are the problem, with all their fighting and negotiating for living wages and benefits for the working class… right, GOP base zombies?

Labor Day: what has happened to American working families between 1970 and today?

Juan Cole thinks it’s important that you think further back than the Romney campaign’s dumb question “are you better off now than you were four years ago?” Instead, ask yourself if you’re better off now than you were in 1970:

See, in general, Who Rules America? The rich in this country now see an opportunity to take us back to the age of the robber barons– and get rid of all government programs for the middle classes and the workers and make us wait to age 70 (when most people will be more decrepit than they expect) to retire. Because the more of the national income they take home every year, the more politicians they can buy, and the more they can cut their taxes and shift the burden of road-building and other government services to the middle classes and workers.

It is a ratcheting process that is leaving the US an increasingly unequal society, and one in which hopes of upward mobility for ordinary people are increasingly crushed. Indeed, Europe (the “Old World”) now offers more opportunities for upward mobility and getting ahead than the United States.

The way to reverse this crisis of income stagnation is to restore rights to unionize and collectively bargain and to make the rich pay their fare share for government-provided infrastructure and for educating the work force they exploit. Guess who will do the opposite if they win in November?

— Labor Day Question: Are you Better off than You were in 1970?

image: christopherstreet

Attn GOP: guess what consumer-based economies depend on?

reagan-was-a-horrible-president: A fact so simple that even Republicans should be able to understand it.

Mitt Romney’s “business experience” = a robber baron in the White House

Laura Clawson at DailyKos argues that Romney’s big rationale for his presidency, his business experience at Bain Capital, is based on bringing jobs BACK to America by making America more like China. American jobs that Bain Capital, and companies like Bain, outsourced to other countries for their own profit for the past three decades:  

If you pay attention to what Romney is saying past the quotable “My job is to bring jobs back to America” lines, he’s saying the jobs would come back because he’d make the U.S. into China. What he’s talking about when he promises to bring jobs back to America is weakening safety and environmental protections, lowering corporate taxes, keeping workers from organizing for better pay and working conditions. If Romney can accomplish all that, his time at Bain certainly does qualify him to exploit the giant new pool of low-wage, poorly protected workers that would result.