Outsourcing Comes Back to America

Recently I had a brief email conversation with a Colorado Voices columnist at the Denver Post, Vicki Davison. She wrote a column about how she liked to shop at Walmart, in part because Walmart employs local workers. I wrote back to her, telling her about the class-action lawsuits filed against Walmart by African Americans and women and the fact that many Walmart employees are on Medicaid. Her reply was something to the effect that she supported everyone’s right to shop where they wanted—in effect, she blew me off.

When I saw the article I’m linking to today, I was tempted to send it to her and see if a second try would be successful. But then I felt childish. I knew that I really wanted her to say, “You’re right, Beth. Walmart is a terrible company, and I will never shop there again.” It wasn’t so much the desire to provide information as my pride that motivated me.

So I’m sharing it with you. The crux of the article is that Walmart has brought outsourcing back to America. In the process, it makes it nearly impossible for workers to unionize and it protects itself from allegations that it abuses its workers. Why? Because they’re not Walmart’s employees. They’re two times removed.

The New Blue Collar: Temporary Work, Lasting Poverty, and the American Warehouse, by David Jamieson

I couldn’t help but notice that this article was published by HuffPost. You know, the company that Ariana Huffington built by getting a lot of people to write for her for free? The one she sold for $300 million? Walmart isn’t the only one who knows how to make money by screwing other people.

What should we call this new phenomenon? In-sourcing? Back-sourcing?