Walmart and Protestors Clash Over Wages

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Elise Amendola/ AP

Update: 9:15 p.m. EST on October 23, 2013

On Wednesday, OUR Walmart, a union-backed workers’ group held a press conference in Washington, D.C. protesting Walmart’s wages. In the conference, a representative from the group pointed out that Bill Simon, the president and CEO of Walmart U.S. said 475,000 of Walmart’s associates earned more than $25,000 per year in a presentation at the Goldman Sachs’ Global Retailing conference last month.

Critics extrapolated that if Walmart has 1.4 million total workers, more than half of its workers are earning less than a living wage, as Bloomberg Businessweek reported Wednesday.

However, Walmart reached out to TIME to clarify that of its 1.4 million U.S. workers, about 1.3 million are hourly associates. (Others are store management and corporate.) Slightly fewer than one million of those hourly associates have been with the company long enough to have an annual wage. Of those one million workers, more than half are full-time. And, Walmart spokesperson Kory Lundberg says, “We have more than 475,000 hourly associates earning more than $25,000″ per year.

In short, by the company’s own employment estimates, at least 25,000 full-time, hourly workers earn less than $25,000 per year — far fewer than protestors estimated.

Walmart, the country’s biggest private employer, has been the target of labor protests and congressional criticism in the past for its low wages. A May study found that 300 employees at one Supercenter in Wisconsin required $900,000 worth of public assistance per year, according to Bloomberg Businessweek.

This story has been updated to include Walmart’s response to protestors’ claims.

[Bloomberg Businessweek]

4 comments
rhintk
rhintk

Having worked at Walmart for over twenty years, I can say I was very well paid for the job I did. Probably more then union workers in the same  industry .( Logistics). Pay isn't everything, and the job left very much to be desired. I stayed as long as I did for the money only, not because it's a good place to work. To the contrary, it's undoubtedly the worst job I ever had.

 They are now treating the truck drivers with the same degree of contempt they treat the hourly associates with. This is evident in the quality for truck drivers they hire today. When I took the job, it was one of the hardest jobs to get in trucking. ( I haven't forgotten that the core business is retail.) Today, they have to advertise for drivers, there are no chances for advancement and you are being constantly threatened with "You'll be asked to leave the company" Walmart speak for being fired, for even the smallest infraction. They are constantly firing people for next to no reason. Remember the young man fired recently for helping a woman being robbed on company property? This was for a violation of no violence on company property. They received such negative publicity over this they offered to rehire the young man. He was smart enough to decline their offer. This is the main reason most people that work there haven't worked a year to be included in the study.

 I could write a book, but the bottom line is several states have thought about imposing fines on Walmart to recover the states' expenses of having to provide all kinds of assistance to Walmart associates exactly because they are so underpaid and must depend on government assistance to survive. I'll make a prediction in closing. Lee Scott, ex CEO of Walmart is on record complaining about the high cost of health care. Next year, when the business exemption for the ACA runs out, Walmart will be one of the first companies to drop health care coverage for their workers, and pay the fine rather than provide insurance.

RichClayton
RichClayton

According to the presentation the article links to, the 475,000 number "Includes every associate working at a US location. Annual wages are based on a 12-month rolling total compensation and exclude medical benefits." So the "correction" from the company is either inaccurate, or the power point slide is inaccurate, but it does not follow that the companies critics are the ones who have misinterpreted anything.

TonysTake
TonysTake

How much should a person be paid to be a Walmart greeter or to push carts in a parking lot? More than #20K?  I think not.

Yoshi
Yoshi

This is how some of our large corporations get you and me to subsidize their business models. Neat stuff, huh?