To add insult to injury, Walmart has received untold billions of dollars in tax subsidies, grants and other handouts from the taxpayers.
But that is not the only way taxpayers are supporting the Walton billionaires. Because of the low wages they pay their workers, many Walmart employees are receiving public benefits, including food stamps and health care coverage, like BadgerCare.
But now a new story broke which puts Walmart even further beyond the pale. They are now asking for food donations from their underpaid workers for their other underpaid workers:
A Cleveland Wal-Mart store is holding a food drive — for its own employees.Working America, a community affiliate of the AFL-CIO, lays out the problem even stronger terms:
"Please donate food items so associates in need can enjoy Thanksgiving dinner," reads a sign accompanied by several plastic bins.
The Cleveland Plain Dealer first reported on the food drive, which has sparked outrage in the area.
"That Wal-Mart would have the audacity to ask low-wage workers to donate food to other low-wage workers — to me, it is a moral outrage," Norma Mills, a customer at the store, told the Plain Dealer.
When their paychecks don’t cut it, many associates turn to public assistance to make up the difference. Walmart’s low wages and insufficient scheduling are behind the enormous costs to the taxpayer incurred by each store. One Walmart Supercenter costs taxpayers $900,000 in Medicaid, SNAP, housing assistance, and other forms of public assistance.Just last week, CNNMoney did a report showing that Walmart could easily give each of their employees a 50% raise and not break the bank. And while the usual corporate toadies will whine that their stock would fall, the article shows that Google gave their employees a 10% pay increase and their stock is now 60% higher than it was before the raise.
But beyond the numbers are the associates themselves, juggling unpredictable schedules and light paychecks, who see the food bins as a sign that the company sees their struggle as the rule, not the exception:
An employee at the Canton store wasn’t feeling that Walmart was looking out for her when she went to her locker more than two weeks ago and discovered the food drive containers. To her, the gesture was proof the company acknowledged many of its employees were struggling, but also proof it was not willing to substantively address their plight.
The employee said she didn’t want to use her name for fear of being fired. In a dozen years working at the company, she had never seen a food drive for employees, which she described as “demoralizing” and “kind of depressing”.
The poor pay and poor treatment that Walmart gave their workers led to the Black Friday protests last year, where workers went on strike for the day. Walmart gave themselves a black eye by retaliating against these workers, threatening and punishing them. On Monday, they got their other eye blackened by the National Labor Relations Board, who found that they had done so illegally and would be pursuing charges.
But it is not just Walmart that is the problem. There has been a systematic failure in our economy in which large corporations are maltreating and underpaying their employees.
And the dissidence from this maltreatment is growing.
This was shown during the numerous one day strikes of fast food places over the past summer, including a few here in Milwaukee. On Monday, hundreds of truckers that work at the Port of L.A. parked their trucks for the day in a one day action.
As a result of these unsustainable wages, there has been a movement across the country to raise the minimum wage to a living wage. Recently, the people in the Seattle area voted to give the workers in and around the airport an increase in their minimum wage to $15 an hour. Similar stories are found in other areas including San Francisco as well as the states of California and Washington.
In Milwaukee, a subdued version of a living wage act was introduced by Milwaukee County Supervisor David Bowen. Bowen's resolution would require than any company contracting with the county would have to pay their workers a living wage - about $11 an hour.
On cue, the corporate special interests - in this case, the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce - came out with their tired, worn out lines of how the market won't support a sustainable wage and that it would cost jobs.
This is, of course, so much poppycock.
I will post the report at a later time.
Along with their event on Tuesday, Wisconsin Jobs Now will hold a town hall meeting this Thursday here in Milwaukee. In their announcement, they include the findings of a study by UC - Berkeley that shows that "34% of Wisconsin's 28,000 fast food workers' families are forced to rely on public assistance to make ends meet. All that adds up to $166 million in our money that pads the profits of companies like McDonald's every year."
Gee, does all of this give you the idea that workers are getting fed up with the status quo? It is time and beyond time for companies to start respecting their workers and paying them a living wage instead of keeping them mired in poverty.
Not only will it help keep people in their homes and food on their tables, but it will also stimulate the economy and lower taxes.
Now who could argue with that?