The Disturbing Truth about Walmart, the Walton Family and the Latino Communiy

Walmart Keeps Our Communities in Poverty
Walmart is the largest employer of Latinos in the United States. About 12% of Walmart’s 1.4 million US workers are Latino.[1]

Unfortunately, Walmart jobs keep our communities in poverty—wages average just $8.81/hour.[2] A full-time Walmart associate earns less than 70 percent of the 2013 federal poverty line for a family of four.

People of color are underrepresented in management jobs at Walmart
Walmart’s low wages are not good for any workers, but minorities are disproportionately represented in low-paying positions. While people of color made up 37% of Walmart’s US workforce in 2012, only 27% of first and mid-level officials and managers were minorities.[3]

Racism against Mexican workers
In April 2011, Walmart paid $440,000 to settle an EEOC suit claiming harassment of Latinos at a Sam’s Club in Fresno, California. According to the EEOC, at least nine employees of Mexican descent and one who was married to a Mexican endured regular eth nic slurs and derogatory remarks from a fellow co-worker. The victims were told that Mexicans are only good for cleaning homes and were called “f—-n’ wetbacks,” and despite the victims’ legal status, their harasser even reported three of them to immigration authorities.[4]

Exploiting Latino workers in Walmart’s supply chain

Guestworkers at Walmart supplier experience abusive conditions
In June 2012, guestworkers from Mexico at a Walmart seafood supplier based in Louisiana went on strike to protest abusive working conditions, including rat-infested housing, long hours without overtime pay and threats made against workers and their families to intimidate them from organizing. Workers at the seafood company, CJ’s Seafood, were said to work up to twenty-four hours straight without overtime pay. They paid $45 of their earnings per week to live in crowded trailers with vermin and no air conditioning, according to one worker. These conditions were documented in a complaint filed with the Department of Labor and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

After its first “investigation,” ending June 13, Walmart announced that it was “unable to substantiate claims of forced labor or human trafficking” at CJ’s.[5] However, it quickly became obvious that the company had not even followed up with the workers who lodged the complaints.[6] Walmart finally announced on June 29 that it is suspending its contract with CJ’s pending its investigation.[7]

Walmart’s contracted warehouse operators illegally exploit predominately Latino workforce
Walmart’s contractors run a massive national distribution and warehouse network that employs a largely Latino workforce. Warehouse operators have repeatedly violated health and safety standards creating unsafe and unhealthy working conditions that have caused widespread injuries to warehouse workers.

In August 2011, workers at NFI Industries, a third-party logistics provider in Chino, CA, which moves Walmart products, filed complaints with Cal-OSHA regarding excessive heat, dangerous speed quotas resulting in repetitive stress injuries, broken and defective machinery leading to dangerous incidents, and dust and chemical inhalation causing dizziness and nosebleeds.

In January 2012, Cal/OSHA’s High Hazard Unit found serious violations of the labor code at NFI and cited them for a total fine of $257,000, an unprecedented fine in the warehouse industry.

Wage theft from Latino workers in California
Latino workers at a major Walmart logistics contractor in Mira Loma, CA, Schneider Logistics, filed a suit in Federal Court, in the Eastern District of California against Schneider and two labor agencies contracted by Schneider in October 2011. In January 2013, a federal judge ruled that Walmart could be added as a defendant in the case.

The complaint details widespread wage-theft resulting from a piece-rate system for unloading containers, failure to pay employees for the time they actually worked and other violations of state and federal wage and hour law.

The violations were so significant and apparent that the Court issued a preliminary injunction against both labor agencies and Schneider to remedy their payroll systems and wage and hour practices to avoid irreparable harm to the workers. Over the last ten years it is estimated that these workers have been defrauded of tens of millions of dollars.

When Latino workers have stood up, companies have retaliated
In both cases referred to above, Latino workers who stepped forward to file complaints or legal action have been retaliated against, through firings, threats, captive audience meetings, demotions, reduced hours, changed shifts, and other punitive measures. In September 2012, workers at warehouses in California that supply Walmart stores went on strike in response to illegal retaliation by their employers.

latinosAnti-immigrant political activities
The Walmart PAC and Waltons’ political contributions disproportionately favor anti-immigrant politicians. Between 2005 and 2012, 52% of the Walmart PAC’s political contributions went to members of Congress with scores of 25 and below on the William C. Velasquez Institute’s Immigrant Justice Scorecard from 2010 (the most recent available).[8] On the other hand, only 45% of those ranked received such low scores.

Many elected officials who received contributions from Walmart PAC and the Waltons also supported E-verify, immigrant detention, militarization of the U.S.-Mexico border, and funding local law enforcement agencies to conduct enforcement of federal immigration laws.[9]

Supporting SB 1070 and other anti-immigrant legislation through ALEC
Until recently, both Walmart and the Walton family were members of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), an organization with a history of promoting anti-immigrant model legislation. While Walmart withdrew from ALEC in response to public pressure in May 2012, the Walton Family Foundation apparently remains a member.

Arizona’s infamous SB 1070 was written at an ALEC conference in 2009.[10] ALEC’s board also pushed for a law that compelled local government to enforce federal immigration laws and pushed for the elimination of birthright citizenship in January 2008, a right established by the 14th Amendment to the Constitution.[11] ALEC also opposed federal legislation that would allow undocumented immigrations a path to citizenship, using fear-mongering language about “illegal-alien [sic] gang members, criminals, and terrorists” becoming U.S. citizens.[12]




[4] EEOC v. Walmart Stores, Inc. dba Sam’s Club, et al., Case No. 09-CV-00804, filed in U.S. District Court, Eastern District of California; “Walmart to Pay $440,000 to Settle EEOC Suit for Harassment of Latinos.” 4-14-11. EEOC Press Release.





[9] Analysis of data from the Center for Responsive Politics and comparison of Immigrant Justice Scorecard