By Mike Moore
Special to The Globe
BENTONVILLE, Ark. —
I strongly object to the cheap shots Robert Reich recently lobbed at Walmart in his recent column (Globe, Feb. 10).
His stats are misleading (our average hourly full-time wage is 40 percent higher than the wage he cites), and he reveals a limited understanding of how a business operates (our 3 to 4 percent profit margin is necessary for any successful company — and is a much tighter margin than most Fortune 500 companies operate on). While it may be his preference that Walmart should unionize, our workers themselves have repeatedly rejected unionization.
But what bothers me most is the way he implies our workers aren’t able to judge for themselves what a good job is. Our 1.4 million associates are hard-working women and men who have chosen to work for us — as a part-time job or a long-term career — and they deserve respect. They do incredible things and serve a greater purpose: They support their families and help the two-thirds of Americans who shop at Walmart each month support their families too.
It’s true Walmart offers some entry-level jobs, but we’re proud of that. They are a foothold into the work force and open doors of possibility. Because here’s what Dr. Reich doesn’t acknowledge: Entry-level jobs often lead to bigger jobs. At Walmart you can climb the ladder from a stocker or cashier to a department manager, store manager and beyond. About 75 percent of our store management teams started as hourly associates, and they earn on average from $50,000 to $170,000 a year — similar to what firefighters, accountants, even doctors make. Each year, we promote about 170,000 people to jobs with more responsibility and higher pay.
I take this issue personally. I started with Walmart in 1988 as a hourly assistant management trainee and now am an executive vice president. Walmart gave me a shot, and I’m grateful. Where else today can people rise through the ranks to achieve the American dream?