Wal-Mart today agreed to pay $34 million to settle a complaint by the Labor Department for underpaying employees for overtime. Wal-Mart Watch issued a statement saying it was just the latest example of Wal-Mart's disregard for laws governing its workers. Others include forcing employees to work off the clock, child labor violations, denial of breaks, violation of family leave law and use of illegal immigrant labor.
It's all about lowering costs. Remember this the next time the people who own Wal-Mart -- the same people who are trying to buy Arkansas's schools, universities and government in support of paying teachers according to results on standardized test scores -- say their aim is raising teacher pay. Why would you expect them to want to be more generous with their tax money than they are with the company's money? The small investment in merit pay -- and it doesn't take much to buy an Arkansas school district we've learned -- is just like the Waltons investment in repeal of the estate tax. A little money buys a lot of leverage and, if successful, a real windfall.