Just to be clear before you read any further, I’m not a Walmart fan. If you are, you may want to stop reading now.
I try not to shop there and generally only go into one when my dad needs something that he wants to pick up there because I’d rather make my dad happy than stand by my beliefs.
Walmart does not have the strongest record when it comes to treating its employees well (to put it mildly), which is one reason I and many of my friends tend to go to Costco instead of Walmart.
I don’t begrudge any of my friends who shop at Walmart because of the low prices, but I often think they don’t know the whole story. Walmart is held up as such a great company and it’s one of the world’s largest employers, but it pays wages so low that many of its staffers are living below the poverty line, and, therefore, are receiving government aid, such as food stamps, to make ends meet. According to a congressional study conducted earlier this year, local taxpayers could pay as much as $900,000 to support Walmart employees in just one town. In Wisconsin, where the studio was conducted, Walmart has more employees receiving publicly subsidized healthcare than any other employer (what I couldn’t figure out is if Walmart also had a much higher number of works in Wisconsin than any other employer). I sometimes wonder if those folks who are holding it up as such a great corporation realize it is causing their taxes to go up?
So Walmart was back in the news today because in one of its stores in Canton, Ohio, employees are encouraged to donate food to other employees who may not have enough for the holidays. Walmart set up containers in employee-only sections of the store where workers could drop off food for other workers.
What’s wrong with this picture? If your employees don’t have enough money to feed their families for Thanksgiving than maybe you, as the employer, need to change your practices and pay them more. Or maybe you should be donating to the food drive instead of asking potentially similarly strapped employees to help out their fellow employees. A Walmart spokesperson says the food drive showed how co-workers looked out for each other. Have you ever heard of another company doing that? It is heartbreaking.
The story, which was first published in the Cleveland Plain Dealer, tells of workers who have been at Walmart making $9.30/hour after working there for five years. Another Ohio employee made $12/hour after a DOZEN years on the job.
According to the company’s own spokesperson, the average full-time salaried sale associate makes around $25,000/year. For a family of four, that is well below poverty level.
Also in the news today, in Cleveland, the National Labor Relations Board found that Walmart “violated the rights of employees” who striked during holiday season last year by “threatening employees with reprisals if they engaged in strikes and protests,” according to The Plain Dealer. Walmart called the ruling “unfair,” and vowed to continue to pursue its legal options.
I bet a number of Walmart workers in the Canton, Ohio store will try to help their fellow associates out by donating food when, again, Walmart should be the one helping them out. Why not give employees turkeys or deep discounts to buy food? In the Plain Dealer article, one associate talked about how hard it was to stock the shelves with things that she could not afford to buy. Guess those lower prices aren't quite low enough for their own workers to afford.
Today I’m giving to the Akron-Canton Regional Foodbank since I imagine a number of Walmart employees may be having their Thanksgiving meal there...before they head to work. Oh yeah, Walmart opens at 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving, two hours earlier than last year.
Nov. 18: Akron-Canton Regional Foodbank