retail news in context, analysis with attitude

Interesting piece from The Street about Costco, which "has famously been a good place to work. It even paid its employees $15 an hour way before most places."   And while Costco gets good reviews on Glassdoor, the website where employees can rate their employers, a small percentage of them - 792 out of more than 13,000 - "mentioned issues with management: 'Poor management by not listening and hearing employees' issues and situations'."

"In 451 reviews," the story says, "employees noted that Costco was 'very effective at keeping selective employees in check if the managers don't like that specific person'."

Reports point out that roughy 20 percent of Costco's national workforce is unionized, and that "as of August 4, 2022, employees continue to bargain with Costco over a desire for a new national contract.

"This fight has been continuous. Workers were offered a contract in June, which was referred to as 'last, best and final' by the big corporation. But the offer was quickly rejected by over 93% of the employees. This week, negotiations continue, but so far are looking stark."

KC's View:

To be clear, there always is a percentage of employees dissatisfied with management.  That's to be expected.

But here's what I would suggest.  Sure, Costco is considered to have a legacy of progressive employment policies.  But legacies can be diminished over time, sometimes by complacency and sometimes because other priorities emerged and took attention away from things like employee relationships.

Trader Joe's is considered to be a progressive employer.  Starbucks is considered a progressive employer.  Apple is considered a progressive employer.  And yet all are dealing with labor issues.

Today, it doesn't seem to matter.  And so I would suggest to Costco - and every retailer - that it is time to get ahead of these issues.  Not saying that they need to capitulate in all cases.  But you have to have a clear view of the field and understanding of the players.