A tremendous divide

This week, Walmart associates in a dozen cities across the country risked several days’ pay to go on strike following the company’s retaliation and attempts to silence their voices.

Also this week, Walmart chair Rob Walton became an estimated $417 million richer and his family’s overall wealth grew by $1.6 billion.

Walmart associates have been coming together to call for change at Walmart for over a year. They’ve asked the company to address issues with scheduling, benefits, wages, and above all, respect in the workplace. But instead of being responsive, Walmart has attempted to silence and intimidate them through unfair disciplinary actions, cut backs in hours, and even firings. Their strike was in response to this retaliation.

While associates were taking this courageous step, Walmart’s stock soared following the news that it would soon offer a prepaid card as an alternative to checking and debit accounts. A soaring stock means good news for the Waltons, who own about half of the company, and it’s how the Waltons’ net worth leapt so incredibly this week.

As news of this strike and future actions continues to spread, it’s impossible not to note the huge gap between Walmart associates and the people they work for. It would take the average Walmart associate almost 27,000 years to make what Rob Walton made from Walmart’s rising share price on Wednesday. And Walmart CEO Mike Duke’s $18.1 million pay last year is 1,167 times the average associate’s pay. CEO pay has become incredibly out of sync with workers’, but Duke’s pay is exceptional. The average CEO-to-worker compensation was 209.4-to-1 in 2011.

As the striking Walmart associates return to work, the company should end its retaliation and consider who makes the profits possible.


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