I thought Bruce Springsteen was pro-labor. Then I read that The Boss’ Greatest Hits will be released exclusively by Wal-Mart. Okay, its only his greatest hits, which you can download anyway song by song if you have the patience. But still, wtf?
Some of my illusions about Springsteen were destroyed at a concert in the mid-80s when an usher told me that every night he pulled a girl out of the audience at exactly the same time for “Dancing In the Dark”–naive me, I thought that was like, spontaneous.
Could Springsteen’s exclusive release be a reward for Wal-Mart’s attempts at reform? Okay, the mega-retailer has made some effort, but not from the goodness of their own heart. They were forced.
In May, 2008 the mega-employer expanded their anti-discrimination policy to included transgendered employees, a proposal made by shareholders, and opposed by the WalMart board of directors. And today the New York Times reports:
Wal-Mart said it would pay at least $352 million, and possibly far more, to settle lawsuits across the country claiming that it forced employees to work off the clock…In a case still pending, Wal-Mart has appealed a 2005 verdict in which a California jury ordered it to pay $172 million for making employees miss meal breaks.
But Wal-Mart spokesman Dave Tovar told the Associated Press in August:
We believe the Employee Free Choice Act is a bad bill and we have been on the record as opposed to it.
Way to support diversity and the unions, Bruce.
And Wal-Mart’s health coverage sucks. The company covers around 50% of its employees, while nationally, 64% of workers at very large firms (5,000 employees or more) receive their health benefits from their employer.
Susan Chambers, Wal-Mart Executive Vice President for Benefits, for the Wal-Mart Board of Directors, wrote in a 2005 memo:
Specifically, our coverage is expensive for low-income families, and Wal-Mart has a significant percentage of associates and their children on public assistance.
That’s taxpayer money. And its morally reprehensible. Surely WalMart, the world’s largest retailer with its gianormous profits, could kick down more cash to cover the cost of employee health care.
And don’t get me started on Wal-Mart’s manufacturers.
The Boss could have found a much more socially responsible way to release his Greatest Hits.