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Here's a statement of the obvious: The opinions expressed here are those of the participants, not those of the Mutual Fund Observer. We cannot vouch for the accuracy or appropriateness of any of it, though we do encourage civility and good humor.

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  • @scoot: It doesn't hurt to know what those minimum wage workers have up their sleeves.
  • I forget - WalMart is part of which federal agency?
  • Doesn't have to be a federal agency; the government outsources lots of stuff these days. Isn't the NSA relying on AT&T and Verizon for data collection?

    Who better than Walmart to help by watching over its large employee base for subversive activities like organizing to earn a living wage?
  • One glaring defect of our Constitution is that the Bill of Rights limits the power of government -- but not of private parties --- powerful private parties, including corporations -- vis-a-vis individuals.

    Its understandable the drafters of the Constitution did not foresee the titanic power of corporations. -- In their day, corporations were created for very specific purposes & for finite, defined periods of time. They were not the immortal persons, of stupendous financial assets which we are all familiar with.

    A constitutional amendment is needed to expand the protection of our civil rights to non-government entities. But don't look for it any time soon....
  • Guys, it should not be surprising, but if anyone not aware, Walmart is a technology powerhouse. At least at one time they were an Oracle shop. Of all the things they might have gotten wrong, their technology infrastructure is first rate. Frankly, I'm more surprised they had to outsource spying to Lockheed Martin and less that they spy at all. I have a feeling all employers spy on employees.
  • I noticed, while picking up a prescription, a camera on the back wall of the little, compact pharmacy space within the supermarket. Is that to spy on ME, the customer? Or the employees? Answer: YES. And the latest couple of jobs I applied for: A "CORI" inquiry is required.... Something about a criminal background check. I didn't used to have to undergo that shit, and neither did anyone else, until lately. My reaction is to feel indignant. I dunno about anyone else.... But how dare you PRESUME that I'm a criminal??? Anyhow, some laws were made to be broken. Did I mention that I'm glad to be retired?
  • edited November 2015
    Today, if you owned business "x"; would you do a background check on someone you may hire to be a part of your business???
    Or would a simple fill in blanks and take their word for their background provide enough trust within you to hire that person?
    The camera(s) at the do realize that employees do steal, yes??? This places the pharma at risk for any number of violations of laws. Yes, the camera(s) are watching you, too. The cameras also watched me when I needed access to a secure pharma area to perform repairs on equipment used by pharma staff. There was not anyone available to follow me around and watch that I was being a good boy, and not pulling something off of a shelf to stuff into my pocket. What a perfect setup against me and my time in "their" facility. Camera monitoring could prove I had nothing to do with a theft of product or cash.
    Keep in mind that these same cameras can also protect you from being falsely accused for an incident.
    I've been involved in employment for the past 50 years that has required a most considerable background check, and in most cases; being under surveillance. The surveillance also protects me against those who have the need to steal.
    Imagine in the future that you find yourself in the position to purchase a $ store. Would you choose to not protect your investment with background checks of potential employees and also have cameras at your store. Likely, I would not sell you "bonding" insurance against loss without your having cameras in your business.
    Tis the way the real world is today.
    Now back to reading the book, "1984".
  • edited November 2015
    Criminal background checks have been required for any job worth its name for some time now (especially any jobs dealing with children or related to federal government work). I was first fingerprinted and mug-shot photoed 42 years ago, while working for a company that received 80% funding from Dept of Defense.
    Attending programs sponsored by internationally oriented groups, such as the Council on Foreign Relations, gets your name run through several databases in DC.
    Airline tickets...
    YouTube has interesting videos of attempted thefts at pharmacy counters. There is a huge drug problem, which leads to armed robbery. Sometimes there is a firearm on the other side of the counter, too. Obviously positioned cameras help reduce the risk, and, in other contexts, as Catch mentioned, can support an employee's truthful claim against a vindictive supervisor.

    (Monitoring and reporting employee language is a separate issue.)
  • Howdy @InformalEconomist

    Yes, I/we know that our "files" are fully and completely logged somewhere within the vast Federal government system.
    Do I "like" that so much background data has been compiled and stored about me? and yes.
    If the need arose today to clarify my integrity regarding a high level clearance; much of the path for this would already be in excellent standing. Full and complete background checks beyond a local/state background check for criminal activity and related is a very expensive proposition and a potential employer would be pleased to find this pathway has already been traveled.
    One should never be surprised to discover through conversation, a casual meeting or otherwise; how many folks you may "rub shoulders with" have had or do have high level security clearances required by their work and/or association with such work.
    Take care,
  • And don't forget that if your entire life is stored at OPM, someone might just hit that SHARE button at the top of the database.

    But Crash, are those cameras aimed so that they can pick up pin numbers?
  • OPM data have been compromised already.

    Background investigation and drug testing is common in many positions I held in the past, and it's really no big deal. Today I am On the opposite end of the table, where I pay attention on my employees for proper professional and personal ethics. What Walmart is doing is nothing surprising. The term spying is the same as monitoring but without the negative implication. If one travel in major cities Europe, there are video cameras at major intersections. Same goes for your smartphone usage data with the cell phone carriers.
  • Background investigation and drug testing was required in positions I held and was no big deal. Professional and ethics were required by my position and investigations and tests verified ethics and character. You should be more disturbed by the information and spying being done on your cellphones and websites by entities you know nothing about.
  • edited November 2015
    Maybe what WM did wrong was getting caught? Most of us have spied on a neighbor, co-worker or teen age child. Whole idea behind spying is that the subject never realizes you're doing it. So WM and Lockheed blew it here.

    If the info accessed was in the public domain, I'd have trouble labeling it as true spying.
    Creepy, excessive, and heavy-handed, however, do come to mind.

    Now, if they planted electronic bugs illegally in these peoples' homes, installed tracking devices on their cars without consent, or stole their confidential records from banks or doctors' offices that would be spying.

    PS - We were in a Walmart Black Friday. The workers generally appeared happy, content, and well fed.:)
  • @hank, the original post above indicated that Lockheed monitored information available on the public domains (Facebook and Tweeter). This is all legal but creepy for sure. The fear of organized labor, i.e. unions, is what drive Walmart to use LM. This would happen if they treat their workers decently, something more than the issue of minimum wage rate. For a while they have no medical benefit or sick leave. Many were kept as part time so that that are not entitled to them.

    This is a real contrast to Costco workers. Last I read they are fairly paid and have benefits. The Swedish company, IKEA, is another example. I don't think neither company's workers are unionized, but they appeared very happy. We chatted with IKEA workers and they were thankful the store is closed for Thanksgiving so that they can spend time with their families. Something to be said about treating others like they want to be treated.
  • edited November 2015
    Sven makes great points. Philosophically I agree with the more enlightened approach Costco and others appear to take. I'd even support stronger worker/union protection laws if they would help the WMart workers and others like them.

    But hammering WMart hard gets us onto some creaky ground here. (1) As consumers do we boycot retailers whose practices we do not condone? Might cost a bit more to shop elsewhere where employee benefits are better. (2) As investors, do we avoid mutual funds owning stock in these companies?

    Amazon isn't exactly a delightful place to work either if you believe the recent NYT piece. Jack Welch at GE must have been a nightmare to work under. Didn't stop many from owning GE, using his light bulbs, or flying on jets with GE engines.

    You'd probably have to unload some of your favorite funds (virtually all of them) if you wanted to avoid being an owner of Amazon or Walmart. And, I dare say, you'd never own a fund investing in any of the emerging markets where enlightened treatment of workers is a rarity. Hell, many treat their citizens worse than Walmart treats its workers!
  • hank: "..many treat their citizens worse than Walmart treats its workers."

    Reply: Walmart probably sources a lot of their apparel from those places...
  • edited November 2015

    Does anyone have a wardrobe in the closet that doesn't include articles manufactured in places like China, India, Cambodia, etc. (Check your tags.) We've recently purchased items from Amazon and tracked the shipments only to discover some of them are being shipped directly from some of these distant emerging market countries to our home.

    Most of us wear several different hats. As a typically liberal voter and former union worker I sympathize with Walmart's employees. But I recognize that increased benefits for those workers may come at a price to shareholders - including many of us who have IRAs invested in funds holding Walmart.

    DODGX, for one, holds approximately $1.3 Bil worth of that stock. And if you own a Vanguard Index fund you likely have a bunch too.

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