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As of now, Wal-Mart is the biggest retail store chain in the United States and employs nearly 1.4 million workers in various positions. But most of the employed workers are store-assistants, who are not generally well-educated. This is the backdrop for Wal-Mart top management to collaborate with American Public University, which offers online higher education degrees. Workers of Wal-Mart, with reasonable work experience with the company and positive performance reviews from their managers, special college credits will be awarded, which will expedite the process of completing the degree.
The author of the article Miguel Bustillo does not critically scrutinize the real intentions behind this program. The article can only be considered a ‘press release’ issued by the Wal-Mart top management on the occasion of the program’s initiation. Hence it is important to place this Wal-Mart initiative in the context of the company’s general reputation with respect to corporate philanthropy. Given the long list of employee grievances against Wal-Mart top management, this initiative should be viewed with skepticism. For example, it is a well-documented fact that Wal-Mart does not provide adequate medical insurance and reasonable wages for its employees. The cheap prices offered to the consumer are as a result of savings made through such means. Moreover, since most of the retail store assistants are employed on a part time basis, they are not eligible to get employer sponsored health insurance and other benefits.
Further, a few years back, the exploitative nature of Wal-Mart manufacturing contracts with companies in the Third World came to light. For example, for every $20 shirt sold in a Wal-Mart store, the Bangladeshi worker who tailored it, gets paid only a fraction of that price. The conditions under which they work and the subsistence level wages they get can only be described as exploitative. Similarly, Wal-Mart’s shoddy record with
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