Workers' rights campaigners say the Walmart supply chain is set up in a way that makes wage theft likely. They say Walmart's vast commercial power and relentless focus on driving down costs squeezes the margins of firms it subcontracts its supply chain out to. Those firms, in turn, squeeze their own subcontractors as they eke out a profit. At the bottom of this process are the workers.
The Elwood warehouse, for example, only shifts Walmart goods. But it is run by logistics giant Schneider. In turn, Schneider outsources most staffing to recruitment agencies. Those layers of outsourcing, critics say, have led to an exploitative industry where wage theft becomes part of the system.
"There are lots of low-skilled, low-paid workers and its easy for employers to chisel away at them. Wage theft is rampant in this industry. It is a perfect storm for wage theft," said Cathy Ruckelshaus, an expert on the warehousing industry at the National Employment Law Project.
Leah Fried, an activist with Warehouse Workers for Justice which is seeking to organise warehouse employees in Elwood, was more blunt. "Is it their business model to rob people? Because it seems that way," she said.
~ from Walmart Supply Chain: Warehouse Staff Agencies Accused of Wage Theft by Paul Harris ~
Of course, Walmart is not alone in this nefarious practice: The vast majority of Fortune 500 companies utilize the same playbook. This is how Apple, Nike or (fill in the blank here) try to escape culpability. "We didn't know that such-and-such company was treating its workers this way." Yeah, right.
But this is the way it's always been. The people at the top NEED their profits, so they squeeze everyone below them. Every rung down the ladder gets squeezed even tighter until the actual workers are reached. Because there has been so much squeezing going on above them, workers feel lucky if they can snatch a few bread crumbs here and there.
I don't know if a socialist system would end this problem, but we need to come up with some kind of system that doesn't treat workers like throwaway pawns!