Karen Olsson’s Up Against Wal-Mart Essay

In “Up Against Wal-Mart” by Karen Olsson, she finds the truth about how Wal-Mart treats its customers and more importantly how the million dollar company treats its employees. In this essay, Olsson strongly believes that Wal-Mart keeps its stores understaffed and their employees overworked and underpaid, with minimal options for reasonable benefits.

Olsson begins with an individual employee, Jennifer McLaughlin, who is a mother of one child, and is currently employed with Wal-Mart in Paris, Texas. She is a very hard worker and puts in a lot of effort every day.

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But she is not able to afford life, with the amount that the company pays her. Health insurance is too much to afford on her wage, so she has to rely on government assistance to give her child the things he needs. She is forced to work over time, is underpaid and also treated unfairly. According to Olsson, “On a given shift McLaughlin might man a register, hop on a mechanical lift to retrieve something from a high shelf, catch fish from a tank, run over to another department to help locate an item, restock the shelves, dust off the bike racks, or field questions about potting soil and lawn mowers” (607).

In other words, Olsson points out that Wal-Mart does not hire enough workers and also overwork its employees.

The other issue is the company Wal-Mart is not unionized. The workers at Wal-Mart have started to try to create a union. But a union at Wal-Mart was never formed due to the company’s anti-union group that created by Wal-Mart, which employees who voted for the union were fired. Olsson states that “Wal-Mart has responded to the union drive by trying to stop workers from organizing—sometimes in violation of federal labor law” (609). Here she proves that Wal-Mart is against the union and will do what it can to stop one from forming. This essay shows that Wal-Mart’s rapid growth rate and lack of change in fair treatment for its employees is only creating more insubstantial jobs for poor people.

The topic of Olsson’s opinions about that Wal-Mart treats its employees badly can be approached from several different angles due to its complexity. Some people seem to think that Wal-Mart is bad for the poor people while others tend to consider that Wal-Mart actually helps the poor people. Upon a close examination of both sides of this issue, I have also developed my own point of view. Personally, I disagree with Olsson’s view that Wal-Mart is bad for poor people because she lacks for hearing opinions from both sides.

One reason I cannot support the Olsson’s view is Wal-Mart’s “every day low price.” Wal-Mart’s low cost of goods saves its consumers billions per year. It not only presents job opportunities for poor families, but offers them discounts on food and necessities. Even though Wal-Mart employees are paid low wages, the low cost of food and other basics makes up for the low wages. For me, Wal-Mart in fact helps the lower income families in the world because their prices are more affordable. Wal-Mart’s prices are helping them purchase more food and basic necessities for their families than they would be able to purchase at other retail stores.

Works Cited
Olsson, Karen. “Up Against Wal-Mart.” They Say/I Say, with Readings. 2nd ed. Gerald Graff, Cathy Birkenstein, and Russel Durst. New York: Norton, 2012. 606-619. Print.

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