Walmart has long been a glaring example of what is wrong with unfettered capitalism in this country, and part of that is making huge profits while paying their employees low wages.
In an apparent admission that one of the world’s largest and profitable corporations does not pay their employees a living wage, a Canton, Ohio Walmart is conducting a food drive for their OWN EMPLOYEES so that they can afford to provide a Thanksgiving meal for their families. To make matters even worse, they are asking their other low-paid employees for the donations.
Think about that for a second… instead of simply giving all of their employees an extra $50 or even $25 for a nice Thanksgiving bonus, Walmart is asking THEIR OWN EMPLOYEES to support the other employees. Furthermore, because Walmart “sales associates” are paid so little, many of them qualify for food stamps and government-funded health care, which comes out of the pockets of taxpayers.
Walmart made $17 billion in profits in 2012. Their CEO, Michael Duke, makes more than 500 times as much money as Walmart’s average employee makes. The six Walton family heirs now own more wealth than 124 million average Americans combined.
But yet, in 17 of the country’s 50 states, Walmart has the highest number of employees on public assistance. Nationwide, over 700,000 Walmart employees do not have health care coverage from their employer.
At the Canton Walmart, signs affixed to tables set up in an employees-only section of the store reads, “Please Donate Food Items Here, so Associates in Need Can Enjoy Thanksgiving Dinner.”
A Walmart spokesman claims that the food drive is proof that the employees care about one another. And while that may be true, I think the employees would be more appreciative if Walmart would pay them a living wage.
An anonymous employee at the Canton Walmart said that the food drive, which she described as “demoralizing” and “kind of depressing”, was proof that the company knows that some of their employees are struggling, but was not willing to help their plight.
A nearby resident, Norma Mills, was outraged and angry when she first heard of the food drive. “Then I went through the emotion of compassion for the employees, working for the largest food chain in America, making low wages, and who can’t afford to provide their families with a good Thanksgiving holiday,” said Mills, an organizer with Stand Up for Ohio, which is active in foreclosure issues in Canton. “That Walmart would have the audacity to ask low-wage workers to donate food to other low-wage workers — to me, it is a moral outrage.”
Vanessa Ferreira, who is an organizer with the group OUR Walmart, was aghast when she heard about the food drive.
“Why would a company do that?” she said. “The company needs to stand up and give them their 40 hours and a living wage, so they don’t have to worry about whether they can afford Thanksgiving.”
We agree. If this doesn’t make the case that the minimum wage should be raised, then nothing does.
The video below features Walmart employees explaining how the retailier’s paltry wages and benefits force many of them onto public assistance. One of the workers displayed his Walmart employee ID alongside his welfare card.