Question Rubs Wal-Mart Boss the Wrong Way

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Question Rubs Wal-Mart Boss the Wrong Way

From a recent New York Times article:
In a confidential, internal Web site for Wal-Mart's managers, the company's chief executive, H. Lee Scott Jr., seemed to have a rare, unscripted moment when one manager asked him why "the largest company on the planet cannot offer some type of medical retirement benefits?"

Mr. Scott first argues that the cost of such benefits would leave Wal-Mart at a competitive disadvantage but then, clearly annoyed, he suggests that the store manager is disloyal and should consider quitting.

... The Web site has a folksy name — Lee's Garage, because Mr. Scott pumped gas at his father's Kansas service station while growing up. But its tone is at times biting.

In his response to the store manager who asked about retiree health benefits, Mr. Scott wrote: "... There are people who would say, 'I'm sorry, but you should take the risk and take billions of dollars out of earnings and put this in retiree health benefits and let's see what happens to the company.' If you feel that way, then you as a manager should look for a company where you can do those kinds of things."

... Stung by the many news media reports about allegations of sex discrimination, off-the-clock work and child labor violations at Wal-Mart, Mr. Scott wrote, "The press lives on things that are negative."
And Wal-Mart's business practices sure provide plenty of fodder for the press.

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