Walmart continues to fight over wages
Walmart has been in the headlines for weeks now regarding its associates low wages, but today Walmart continues to dig itself deeper by asking its financially strapped associates to help other financially strapped associates. It makes no sense.
A Walmart store in Canton, Ohio is holding a food drive to help aid employees in need, which raises the question, why are Walmart’s employees in need in the first place? Why isn’t the world’s largest retailer paying its employees enough to afford their basic needs, but asking its low wage associates to help their fellow coworkers with their basic needs?
While facing criticism for paying low wages, the retail giant faces hardships of its own reporting its third straight quarterly decline. Analysts claim that low-income customers have been reluctant to open their wallets.
It can be argued that it’s more than just low-income workers that are not opening their wallets at Walmart. The negativity in the headlines regarding Walmart’s questionable business decisions have been at the forefront of Black Friday discussions. Last week 117 workers in Chicago went on strike in hope their voices would be heard to demand a living wage.
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CNN Money spoke with the CEO of Walmart, Bill Simon asking for some clarification regarding Walmart’s wage disputes. The reporter asks, “With almost $17 billion in sales, why not just raise the wages and then your employees will have more money spend at Walmart!”
Bill Simon replies, “The reason we apposed it [raising minimum wage] in Washington is because it was targeted specifically at us. The discussion around minimum wage is one that this country needs to have, but that’s not the issue. The issue is not where you start, but it’s where you go to once you’ve started, the mobility. So raising the minimum wage will change the starting wage but it won’t adjust and where people can to and the career opportunities that exist in the country today. One of the reasons we that we launched a manufacturing initiative this year was to help address that. At our company you have the opportunity to enter at whatever level your capability would suggest and you have the opportunity to advance. That opportunity doesn’t exist everywhere in the country, so our efforts in U.S manufacturing is to bring back those jobs that people can advance to. I think the debate over the starting wage or the minimum wage is just a little bit shortsighted in the conversation, because it’s not where you start, it’s where you go to. Everyone starts somewhere. “
The reporter asked if Walmart would have to raise prices if the minimum wage was raised to $15 and Simon replies, “You can look at places where there is a $15 minimum wage like Australia for example and the average retail wage is $22 and a 24-pack of coke is $26.”
I think this says a lot about Simon. Being the CEO of the largest retailer in the world come with an immense amount of responsibility, and if employee’s wages were significantly raised could Walmart single handedly start and upswing of inflation essentially landing employees in the same situation they are in now?
How innovation is transforming government
According to Washington Technology’s Top 100 list, Leidos is the largest IT provider to the government. But as Lieutenant General William J. Bender explains, “that barely scratches the surface” of the company’s portfolio and drive for innovation.
Bender, who spent three and a half decades in the military, including a stint as the U.S. Air Force’s Chief Information Officer (CIO), has seen action in the field and in technology during that time, and it runs in the family. Bender’s son is an F-16 instructor pilot. So it stands to reason Bender Senior intends to ensure a thriving technological base for the U.S. Air Force. “What we’re really doing here is transforming the federal government from the industrial age into the information age and doing it hand-in-hand with industry,” he says.
The significant changes that have taken place in the wider technology world are precisely the capabilities Leidos is trying to pilot the U.S. Air Force through. It boils down to developing cyberspace as a new domain of battle, globally connected and constantly challenged by the threat of cybersecurity attacks.
“We recognize the importance of the U.S. Air Force’s missions,” says Bender, “and making sure they achieve those missions. We sit side-by-side with the air combat command, intelligence surveillance, and reconnaissance infrastructure across the Air Force. There are multiple large programs where the Air Force is partnering with Leidos to ensure their mission is successfully accomplished 24/7/365. In this company, we’re all in on making sure there’s no drop in capability.”
That partnership relies on a shared understanding of delivering successful national security outcomes, really understanding the mission at hand, and Leidos’ long-standing relationship of over 50 years with the federal government.
To look at where technology is going, Bender thinks it is important to look back at the last 10 to 15 years. “What we’ve seen is a complete shift in how technology gets developed,” he says. “It used to be that the government invested aggressively in research and development, and some of those technologies, once they were launched in a military context, would find their way into the commercial space. That has shifted almost a hundred percent now, where the bulk of the research and development dollars and the development of tech-explicit technologies takes place in the commercial sector.”
“There’s a long-standing desire to adopt commercial technology into defense applications, but it’s had a hard time crossing the ‘valley of death’ [government slang for commercial technologies and partnerships that fail to effectively transition into government missions]. Increasingly we’re able to do that. We need to look at open architectures and open systems for a true plug-and-play capability. Instead of buying it now and trying to guess what it’s going to be used for 12 years from now, it should be evolving iteratively.”