A Wal-Mart warehouse in Elwood, Ill., seems to be popping up in the news quite often.
Surely everyone, unless you’ve been living in a cave since the dawn of the 21st century, knows Wal-Mart is the scapegoat for all that is wrong with corporate America. We hear the same regurgitations every time: They pay low wages, and they drive mom-and-pop stores out of business.
The conglomerate also exploits its workers.
Or do they?
By “they”, I mean Wal-Mart itself.
Here’s a review of what’s been happening with the Elwood warehouse.
- Temp workers sue their company, Select Remedy, which provides staffing to the warehouse. The workers allege they weren’t paid for all the hours they work, or for overtime.
- Eight temp workers file a lawsuit against Schneider Logistics and Reliable Staffing Group. The workers say they were unpaid while working in “unsavory conditions.” Schneider Logistics is the warehouse’s contractor, which hires Reliable Staffing’s workers for Wal-Mart. Schneider also contracted with Select Temps, it is worth noting.
- In the latest incident, Simos Insourcing Solutions employees filed a lawsuit against the staffing firm, saying they were refused benefits, had to pay a fee to receive their paychecks, and weren’t given specific employment information like terms of pay, as Illinois law requires.
There’s a recurring theme here, and I’m not drinking the anti-Wal-Mart Kool-Aid this time.
In all three cases, Wal-Mart was not the one being sued. It was the staffing agencies.
Chris Williams, the attorney representing the plaintiffs in the Select Remedy lawsuit, said the agency itself is responsible for the alleged wage dispute, but faults Wal-Mart for contracting with them. He said that big companies like Wal-Mart “pit smaller temp agencies against each other to get the lowest price,” and will do whatever it takes to drive costs down and cheat workers.
And the blame goes back to Wal-Mart.
The Warehouse Workers for Justice say that many businesses in Will County, where this Wal-Mart is located, operate on a perma-temp system, using temporary workers rather than direct hires more often than not.
Somehow Wal-Mart keeps running into problems with the agencies it hires to provide its workers. I suggest they research the companies they’re going through a little more next time. And get rid of Schneider Logistics, while they’re at it. It seems like some bad juju there.
If there’s anything to accuse Wal-Mart of, it is simply poor judgment.