They Really Don’t Like the Rest of Us

By now, you might have heard that Nazghul, Wisconsin governor, and presidential hopeful Scott Walker appears to have received $1.5 million from businessman John Menard Jr. While this raises all sorts of campaign finance related issues, what I find fascinating–in a Charles Manson sort of way–is Menard. His disdain and lack of respect for his workers is, well, something (boldface mine):

Menards managers must sign a work agreement in which they consent to pages of rules and penalties: They are fined $10 if there are more than 15 carts in the parking lot, $100 a minute if a store opens late, $10 if a customer doesn’t pick up a special order within 10 days. With military-like discipline, a manager’s absences are tightly
controlled, and suggestions to a superior are not welcome….

Managers are prohibited from building a home, even if they purchase the construction materials elsewhere. It’s a measure to prevent employee theft, John Menard once told the media. The penalty is termination.

Even minor building projects concerned him. On numerous occasions, former managers say, Menard hired private investigators to take photos when an employee added a deck or addition, then had internal examiners cross-reference the materials in the photos with items the employee had purchased, looking for products that had been stolen.

The most infamous casualty of this policy was Eldon Helget, a lumber yard manager for Menards’ Burnsville, Minn., store. Helget’s daughter was confined to a wheelchair and the narrow hallways in the Helget home made it difficult to get around. She was getting too big for her mother Linda to carry her up the stairs, and because the bathroom couldn’t accommodate her wheelchair, the girl had no privacy. When the Helgets could find no home that met their needs, they decided to build from scratch.

But Helget’s boss, Larry Menard, said there were no exceptions to the company rule. Helget, who had a stellar 13-year record with the company, could resign his post and take a lower-level job, Larry said. That meant a $15,000 cut in his $40,000 salary, but Helget still agreed.

The Helgets hired a contractor to build a ramp-equipped home, using building materials from another company. When John Menard heard about the deal, he fired Helget. The company notified Helget that if he ever showed up on its property again, he’d be arrested for trespassing.

Then there’s this delightful tale:

Bropst recounts horror stories of how other employees were handled.

One involved a North Dakota Menards store manager. The manager’s wife had triplets that came early and required special attention at the University of Minnesota Medical Center. The manager spent a small fortune on plane fare commuting back and forth. He still worked 35 to 40 hours, but his contract required a minimum of 55 a week, so his weekly pay dropped from $1,000 to $500 or $600, Bropst says. “Two of the babies didn’t make it, and John (Menard) fined him $2,000 [out of his bonus] because he had to bury two of his kids and didn’t put in 55 hours those two weeks.”

Some wealthyrich employers might have tried to help these guys out. But not Scott Walker’s BFF. Instead, Menard crushed them. It shows a complete lack of empathy, and a boatload of moral degeneracy to boot.

This sociopath owns Scott Walker (though birds of a feather….). And Walker just might become president.

I don’t think there’s that much ruin in a nation….

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7 Responses to They Really Don’t Like the Rest of Us

  1. Bardiac says:

    There’s also the terrifying environmental issues: (The 2005 story reports that “Menards Corporation entered a guilty plea today in Eau Claire County Court to a reduced charge of illegally dumping toxic waste into a drain that eventually leads to a tributary of the Chippewa River.”)

    Around here, folks tend to think that Menard is buying Walker to deregulate environmental protections.

  2. anthrosciguy says:

    Wow. That is one messed up guy. I think I’d rather have the soulless, unfeeling corporation keeping me down than this guy; he sounds like he takes it personally and goes out of his way to crush people.

  3. Pi Rick Victery says:

    If I still lived in Wisconsin, I would totally boycott Menard’s after hearing about this stuff

  4. anthrosciguy says:

    Menard’s operates in a number of states. I’ve looked in some at times while we were RVing, and am glad I never ended up buying anything there. This guy makes the Walmart clan look good.

  5. Jim Sweeney says:

    As an atheist, I’m uncomfortable with the concept of evil. However, my town’s erstwhile Unitarian minister, possibly echoing Kant, defined it as treating other people as though they didn’t matter. By that definition, this is evil.

  6. irmo says:

    ” I think I’d rather have the soulless, unfeeling corporation keeping me down than this guy; ”

    A corporation is just like an automobile or table saw. It is indeed soulless, but if it is made to operate in the right kind of environment, it benefits all parties involved.

    When you let the likes of John Menard write teh laws and regulations, that is when the sociopathic potention of the corporation comes to the fore.

  7. Pingback: Freedom of contract or corporate Big Brother? | Phil Ebersole's Blog

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