The recent dust-up between Amazon and publisher Hachette reminds us that retail is a brutal business—tough on employees, really hard on suppliers. Walmart, the largest physical retailer, and Amazon, the largest retailer online, illustrate the pain produced in the effort to make consumer’s prices as low as possible.
Consider the plight of those working in retail. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, retail salespeople and cashiers were the two largest occupations in the U.S. in 2013, together employing almost 8 million people. These are low-paid occupations under the best of circumstances. While the median hourly wage for all employed people was $16.87, cashiers made just 58% of the median, and sales clerks just 60%.
Numerous news articles document the tough working conditions for both Amazon and Walmart employees. Both employers face suits for not paying employees for all of their required time at work, including time waiting…
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