By Indy Media
Sep 7, 2009
From The Cap Times
A new Department of Labor study shows that the retail sector is likely to see dramatic job growth in coming years. With the country still struggling with a bad case of recession, any talk of job growth is attractive.
The only question is: How attractive?
If retail jobs pay high wages and provide sufficient benefits, they could be a vital part of the country's economic renewal. On the other hand, if retail jobs continue to pay low wages and provide few if any benefits, a recovery based on them will not be a recovery at all.
As the Obama administration continues to bumble the auto industry bailout - spending tens of billions in federal tax dollars to encourage General Motors and Chrysler to close plants in communities such as Kenosha and relocate the work to foreign countries - America's industrial economy is faltering.
Industrial jobs, especially those in unionized factories, used to sustain American families and communities. If we replace them with quality retail jobs, the overall U.S. economy will be less steady, less functional and less capable of competing in the 21st century.
What to do?
Make sure that retail jobs are good jobs.
In anticipation of Labor Day, a coalition of labor, environmental and community groups has called on Wal-Mart - the country's largest retailer - to "join them in supporting the core American values of worker rights, quality jobs, equal opportunity, corporate responsibility and a healthy environment."
"Labor Day is an important time to reflect on the state of the American workplace and worker. As the world's largest retailer, and America's No. 1 private employer, Wal-Mart has the largest, most profound impact on jobs and on our economy," said United Food and Commercial Workers Vice President Pat O'Neill, a leader of the coalition. "Nobody wants an economy where workers earn wages that can't support a family. Nobody wants an economy where people who go to work everyday and work hard have to turn to public assistance for basic needs."
Actually, O'Neill and his compatriots are giving Wal-Mart, a corporation that made its name by paying low wages and flooding the country with imported products, a lot of credit.
But that's good.
The campaign creates an opening for the retail giant to address five key areas of concern: worker rights, quality jobs, equal opportunity, corporate responsibility and a healthy environment. It also gives consumers and citizens an opportunity to call on Wal-Mart to do the right thing.
To learn more about the coalition's American Values Agenda for Change at Wal-Mart campaign, make a Labor Day visit to http://www.wakeupwalmart.com/feature/commonsense/.