<\body> Stories in America: Another Wal-Mart...in Uvalde, TX

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Another Wal-Mart...in Uvalde, TX

I'm finding that the best places to interview people are at gas stations, campgrounds, hotels, the parking lots of grocery stores and Wal-Mart. Before leaving Uvalde yesterday, I spent two hot hours in the Wal-Mart Supercenter parking lot interviewing a number of people -- all Bush supporters this time around. A few days ago, I found mostly Democrats.

Here are excerpts from a few of those interviews:

Rodrigo Domingo, 53
Overnight stocker at Wal-Mart
Voted for Bush

How long have you worked for Wal-Mart?

Seven years. I used to unload trucks. You can say I got a promotion.

Did you get a raise with that promotion?


How does the company treat its employees? Do they give you enough time off? Do they pay for your health insurance?

I doubt that any company pays for your health insurance. We get to buy insurance. Wal-Mart pays for half. They give us the time off we need. They have all sorts of benefits, like the discount card. To be able to raise your hourly wage, you have to work harder than your neighbor.

Have you read about the sex discrimination suit against Wal-Mart?

I've read about it, but I don't believe it. There are a lot of management people here that started in maintenance or unloading trucks. There's opportunity for promotion or to change to a different area.

People also say that when Wal-Mart comes to town, the smaller shops are pushed out because they can't compete.

Not necessarily. That's one of the reasons why Wal-Mart moved out of the city, so they wouldn't be competing with the smaller stores in town. We're way out here. The smaller stores are in town. If the customer drives all the way here, they want a better bargain.

So it's capitalism at work.

It's America. That's what it is.

People are writing books and articles about Wal-Mart, saying Wal-Mart's owners are always on the "richest people in the world" lists, making millions of dollars, and it's not fair to pay the employees so little. What message would you send to those people who are writing the books and doing the research?

They wouldn't understand because those people are up there in skyscrapers. They themselves are making high salaries. If they were to come to South Texas in the hot weather and without a college degree, they would take this job. It would be better than working out in the fields. What would they know? I challenge them to come down here and do some work and find out what's going on. Up there, you can dictate, but you don't know what's going on behind the table. I'm very happy with this company.

Jean Ward, 79
Retired Teacher in Uvalde
Voted for Bush

What do you do for fun here?

I go to the show. I eat out. I visit my daughters. I'm a retired school teacher after 34 years and have gone back substituting off and on in the lower grades.

How's the education system here?

I think it's ok.

How do people tend to vote in this town?

The school board is half and half. I'd say the teachers are half and half.

Do you vote?

Oh, you bet I do. That's our right. People fought for that right and I certainly believe in that.

Are you a fan of President Bush?

Oh yes, he's from Texas.

What do you like about him?

I like his personality. He's just outspoken and does what he thinks he's supposed to do.

Do you always vote Republican?

I've voted both, but I really wanted him because he was Governor. I mean there's lots of complaints about him, but there's complaints about everybody.

Do you think he's done a good job over the past four years?

Well, he did what he thought was right.

Has your life improved over the past four years?

It wasn't much better before he became President, so I can't complain. I think school teachers needs more money.

Are you open to voting for a Democrat?

Oh yeah. If I like 'em, I vote for 'em. I'm not just a cut and dry Republican. I imagine we'll have a Democrat next time. And maybe even a woman.


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