An article in today’s USA Today highlights Walmart associates who are coming together in the Organization United for Respect at Walmart (OUR Walmart) to make Walmart a better company and a better place to work. The stories that associates from around the country tell about their struggles with inconsistent schedules, small paychecks, inadequate benefits, and disrespect from management provide a colossal contrast with what we know about the Walmart 1 percent:
Take the case of Walmart associate Janet Sparks of Louisiana, who earns $11.60 per hour after seven years with the company. Meanwhile, earlier this week, the Walton family got their quarterly dividend checks and had more than $667 million added to their bank accounts. That’s about 31,212 times the amount of money that Janet earns in a full year working in a Walmart store!
Or consider the situation of the Fletcher family in California. Walmart associate Greg Fletcher and his wife, also a Walmart associate, together earned about $25,000 last year. So far in the 2012 federal election cycle, the Waltons have spent $834,900, or 33 times the Fletcher family’s annual earnings, on donations to politicians, 99.4% of which has gone to Republicans. The Fletchers can’t afford Walmart’s health insurance plan, so they rely on Medicaid to make sure their two young sons have healthcare coverage. How many Walmart associates and their kids would have health insurance if that $834,900 went to associates’ insurance premiums rather than politicians’ pockets?
This inequality and injustice is shameful. Walmart is the world’s biggest retailer, and with $15.7 billion in profits last year, can afford many times over to do better by the people who work in its stores. And the Walton family, as heirs to the Walmart fortune and owners of just under 50 percent of the company’s stock, is in a position to make Walmart do better by associates. Why won’t they do what’s right?
Bravo to the OUR Walmart members who are leading the way in standing up, speaking out, and fighting for respect.