Walmart, one of the richest corporations in the world, refuses to pay its employees a livable wage or provide any form of decent healthcare, increasing reliance on government assistance, and the need for a social safety net. At over $446 billion per year, Walmart is the third highest revenue grossing corporation in the world. Walmart earns over $15 billion per year in pure profit and pays its executives handsomely. In 2011, Walmart CEO Mike Duke – already a millionaire a dozen times over – received an $18.1 million compensation package. The Walton family controlling over 48 percent of the corporation through stock ownership does even better. Together, members of the Walton family are worth in excess of $102 billion – which makes them one of the richest families in the world.
What is shameful is that CEO Mike Duke makes more money in one hour, than his employees earn in an entire year. Yet, Walmart – which employs millions of people in its stores, distribution centers, and warehouses – continues to abuse its employees and refuses to pay them a livable wage. The company has frequently been charged with wage theft claims by workers who point to the most common forms of wage theft: the refusal to pay proper overtime, the refusal to honor the minimum wage, and illegal paycheck deductions.
Meanwhile, Walmart routinely blocks any attempt by workers to organize, using anti-union propaganda and scare tactics, firing employees without just cause, failing to provide any form of decent healthcare coverage or a livable wage.
To make matters worse, these abusive Walmart policies have increased employee reliance on government assistance and the need for a government funded social safety net. In fact, Walmart has become the number one driver behind the growing use of food stamps in the United States with "as many as 80 percent of workers in Wal-Mart stores using food stamps."
Wal-Mart's poverty wages force employees to rely on $2.66 billion in government help every year, or about $420,000 per store. In state after state, Wal-Mart employees are the top recipients of Medicaid. As many as 80 percent of workers in Wal-Mart stores use food stamps.
Walmart's employees receive $2.66 billion in government help every year, or about $420,000 per store. They are also the top recipients of Medicaid in numerous states. Why does this occur? Walmart fails to provide a livable wage and decent healthcare benefits, costing U.S. taxpayers an annual average of $1.02 billion in healthcare costs. This direct public subsidy is being given to offset the failures of an international corporate giant who shouldn’t be shifting part of its labor costs onto the American taxpayers.
"Wal-Mart workers’ reliance on public assistance due to substandard wages and benefits has become a form of indirect public subsidy to the company. In effect, Wal-Mart is shifting part of its labor costs onto the public."
Recently, Walmart workers have been speaking out against the abuses they face because of excessive corporate greed. For the first time in Walmart's 50 year history, workers at multiple stores are striking. Three weeks ago, over 70 Walmart workers in Los Angeles decided to walk off the job.
The Huffington Post reported earlier this month that the recent wave of Walmart strikes has now grown to 12 cities across the United States, with workers walking off the job in Dallas, Seattle, the Bay Area, Miami, the Washington D.C. area, Los Angeles, Sacramento, Chicago and Orlando, in addition to cities in Kentucky, Missouri and Minnesota.
And it's not just Walmart's storefront employees speaking out for justice. The warehouse workers that Walmart employs through its supply chain have been striking as well. Walmart warehouse workers in Illinois and California also went on strike earlier this month.
They are fed up. And we should be too. Walmart should no longer be allowed to turn its back on the American worker and push its labor costs onto the American taxpayer. We need to protect our social safety net, American workers and American taxpayers. If Walmart can afford to pay CEO Mike Duke an $18.1 million bonus package, it can afford to provide a living wage for those whose sweat and hard work has made Walmart one of the richest corporations in the world.