New Wal-Mart Fitness Policy Breaks Ground for Employee Health
Bentonville, Arkansas, January 22, 2006 -- Wal-Mart's new employee fitness program has been a "dazzling success" in the first three months of its operation, a Wal-Mart spokesman, Chip Kraippe, said yesterday. The new policy, which was announced by the unusual means of a closely-held internal memo that was leaked in October of last year, dictates that all Wal-Mart employees are required to perform at least one hour of high-impact physical activity each day, regardless of their duty assignment.
The policy, according to Wal-Mart spokesman Kraippe, has been "highly beneficial to the physical fitness and well-being of our employees."
Wal-Mart is currently the world's largest retailer and boasts the world's largest employees, with over 1.3 million greeters, folders, sweepers, checkers and sleevers on the company payroll nationwide. Wal-Mart also boasts the highest percentage of uninsured workers in the United States, with many employees, and nearly half of all employees' children, entirely without health insurance. It is thus in the best interest of the company, according to Kraippe, to make sure their employees stay healthy.
"A regular and sound fitness regimen," said Kraippe, "is vital to maintaining the health and well-being of our valued workers. That is why our new policy, as described in the top-secret memo of October, 2005, ensures that all employees of Wal-Mart will have a daily diet of vigorous exercise as an essential component of their duties, whatever the duties may be."
As part of the plan's implementation, a typical Wal-Mart assistant manager, whose responsibilities may include the hiring and firing of low-level greeters and folders, minor payroll discussions, union-busting, punctuality and attendance monitoring, administration of loyalty oaths, and random drug and alcohol testing of elderly employees, will also be required to unload at least 12 budget kitchen stoves or three pre-rusted refrigerators per day.
"Let's face it, if you've got some kind of prissy desk job, like Assistant Vice President for Product Development or Deputy Media Relations Officer, you're going to spend most of your time sitting in front of a budget Wal-Mart computer terminal turning into a budget Wal-Mart-shaped bucket of sludge," said Mr. Kraippe. "Our plan is to keep our employees alert, active, and on the move. That will help keep them fit, and reduce their health-care costs in the long run."
Some whining liberal watchdog groups, however, have faulted Wal-Mart for the policy, which the groups view as "regressive, reprehensible, and, let's not split hairs, fascistic."
"Hitler is purring in his grave," said one workers' rights activist, who asked not to be identified. "Wal-Mart's actions here are hauntingly reminiscent of the type of unnatural selection that took place in Nazi Germany. So they hire someone for an entirely non-physical job, like production supervisor, but require the worker to perform an arbitrary batch of menial tasks only to determine whether this employee might or might not have a higher likelihood of getting sick at some point. If they can't do it, even if it has nothing to do with their job, they're out on the street."
"Everyone gets sick at some point – that's what health insurance is for," the activist continued. "If they don't want to pay health insurance or help offset their low-paid employees' healthcare costs, why doesn't the staggeringly hypocritical flag-waving Wal-Mart just move their retail operations to some place without human rights, like China or Indonesia, thereby placing factory production and retail sales in the same country?"
But with the few exceptions of radical fringe groups such as the one quoted above, support for the Wal-Mart health and fitness program has been virtually universal.
"Hey, I think it's just peachy," said Pugbard Boiltooth, an assistant urine analyser at Wal-Mart's retail outlet in Trenton, New Jersey. "I'm about 120 pounds overweight, and so the new physical stuff I have to do is really going to help me drop that flab. I'm just happy I got grandfathered in, though. I never would have gotten the job under the new policy."
By Ion Zwitter, Avant News Editor
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