Walmart Workers Tell Elizabeth Warren Her Minimum Wage Bill Doesn’t Go Far Enough | ThinkProgress


via Walmart Workers Tell Elizabeth Warren Her Minimum Wage Bill Doesn’t Go Far Enough | ThinkProgress.

BY ALICE OLLSTEIN POSTED ON NOVEMBER 18, 2014

CREDIT: MAKING CHANGE AT WALMART

 

With Black Friday just about a week away, Walmart workers organizing mass walkouts, strikes and protests for higher wages and better conditions also took their grievances to Capitol Hill.

At a Senate briefing Tuesday, Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) promised the workers to keep pushing Congress to pass three key bills: to raise the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 an hour, make companies give workersmore predictable schedules, and ensure women and men are paid the same rate for the same work.

As someone raised by working class parents, Warren called the issue “deeply personal.” When she was 12 years old, her father lost his job selling carpet when he took time off to recover from a heart attack. “Like a lot of families, we had no money coming in. We lost our car. We were right on the edge of losing our home,” Warren said. “So my mother, who was 50 years old and had never worked outside the home, pulled on her best dress, put on her lipstick and walked to the Sears to get a minimum wage job. But here’s the key: it was a minimum wage job that would support a family of three. That minimum wage job saved our family and our home.”

Today, said Warren, even a single full-time worker can’t pay the rent on the current minimum wage. She has noted previously that today’s minimum wage would be $22 an hour if pay had kept pace with increased productivity over the past several decades.

Warren acknowledged that these three bills–some of which have already beenrepeatedly blocked by Senate Republicans, will be even more difficult to pass once the GOP takes control of the upper chamber in January. “Change is not easy. We may not pass these three bills right away,” she said.

And for workers like Cantare Davunt, a customer service manager at a Walmart in Apple Valley, Minnesota, those measures won’t be nearly enough. At the congressional briefing, Davunt thanked Senator Warren for her efforts, but said she and other workers will keep fighting for $15 an hour, full-time schedules, and the right to protest working conditions without retaliation.

Davunt told ThinkProgress she already makes $10.10 an hour, but her schedule is so erratic that some weeks she’s working overtime and others she’s barely getting 16 hours a week.

“All Christmas season you get tons of hours but in January it really drops off,” she said. “Sure, you don’t have to buy Christmas presents, but you still have to pay rent and food and a huge heat bill. It’s one of the coldest months of the year in Minnesota. So many people rely on public assistance because their employers aren’t paying enough.”

A graduate of the University of Minnesota with a degree in International Studies, Davunt shares an apartment with a fellow Walmart worker, and says they struggle to make ends meet on their unpredictable salaries. She recently took a second job as a political canvasser, but now that the election is over, she is having difficulty finding another employer willing to work around Walmart’s constantly changing hours.

This summer, Davunt fell behind on bills and had her car repossessed—without warning, and without the ability to collect her belongings from inside. Like millions of other US workers, she is also behind on her student loan payments. “I can’t get ahead and get my life on track if I’m constantly dealing with how I’m going to pay a certain bill or even get to work,” she said. “We can’t plan ahead. It’s a constant stress.”

A week from this Friday, Davunt will be one of thousands of Walmart workers across the country walking off the job to protest the company’s labor practices on the biggest shopping day of the year: Black Friday. A year ago, Davunt said she was too frightened to be the only one in her store to go on strike. But after participating in protests this summer, learning about her rights, and talking more with her coworkers, she and “quite a few” others in her store will be striking this year together.

Congressman George Miller (D-CA), who is sponsoring Warren’s bills in the House of Representatives, said at Tuesday’s briefing he hopes lawmakers will look at the positive impact of higher wages in places like his home state of California.

 

“This is about the simple dignity of the people you have hired to work,” he said. “When you have a higher minimum wage, fair scheduling and equal work for equal pay, the perception of the business goes up in the people’s mind, the customers go up and the revenues go up.”

 

Walmart could pay workers $14.89 an hour without raising prices


via The Utopian Encyclopedia | Daily Kos: Walmart could pay workers $14.89 an hour without raising prices.

Walmart can easily afford to raise pay for its low-wage workers by $5.83 an hour, to an average wage of $14.89, a new report from progressive think tank Demos concludes.

(via satanic-capitalist)

 

Wildcat strikes at seven Walmart stores in Dallas | libcom.org | Culture of Resistance


Wildcat strikes at seven Walmart stores in Dallas | libcom.org | Culture of Resistance.

Workers have today walked off the job at seven branches of Walmart across Dallas. The workers then joined protests outside, demanding that workers are paid a minimum of $25,000 a year. The action organised by the ‘OUR Walmart’ campaign has been played down by company lickspittles, who claim that very few employees have been involved, and that busloads of pickets had been transported between stores to boost number

POSTED BY
 Warlike Parakeet

REBLOGGED FROM Sustainable Prosperity

Daily Kos: If You Aren’t Sure Walmart Needs to Pay Higher Wages, This Photo Will Erase All Doubt


Daily Kos: If You Aren’t Sure Walmart Needs to Pay Higher Wages, This Photo Will Erase All Doubt.

The photo above comes from the Walmart on Atlantic Boulevard in Canton, Ohio.

The bins aren’t to collect cans for a food pantry somewhere else in the city. They are meant to collect food for Walmart associates themselves.

Here’s some context. The average Walmart sale associate makes $8.81 per hour, according to the independent market research group IBISWorld. That translates into $15,576 a year if the associate works a full-time schedule of 34 hours a week. But that’s actually pegging it quite high, as many associates have highly erratic or meager work schedules that don’t allow them anywhere close to full-time status.

For a three-person household (two parents and a child, for instance), the 2013 federal poverty level is $19,530.

When their paychecks don’t cut it, many associates turn to public assistance to make up the difference. Walmart’s low wages and insufficient scheduling are behind the enormous costs to the taxpayer incurred by each store. One Walmart Supercenter costs taxpayers $900,000in Medicaid, SNAP, housing assistance, and other forms of public assistance.

But beyond the numbers are the associates themselves, juggling unpredictable schedules and light paychecks, who see the food bins as a sign that the company sees their struggle as the rule, not the exception:

An employee at the Canton store wasn’t feeling that Walmart was looking out for her when she went to her locker more than two weeks ago and discovered the food drive containers. To her, the gesture was proof the company acknowledged many of its employees were struggling, but also proof it was not willing to substantively address their plight.

The employee said she didn’t want to use her name for fear of being fired. In a dozen years working at the company, she had never seen a food drive for employees, which she described as “demoralizing” and “kind of depressing”.

An analysis by Fortune shows that Walmart can afford to give its employees a 50 percent raise without hurting its bottom line. But low wages are only one part of the widespread culture of disrespect, retaliation, and indifference Walmart shows its employees.

More than ever before, associates are standing up to this culture, and we’re standing with them. On November 29, 2013, protests are planned at Walmart stores across the country, and all are welcome to stand in solidarity with associates.

Walmart is the nation’s largest private employer. They have set the standard for an entire generation of business practices. Whether or not we shop there, what they do at their company affects all of us.

Visit BlackFridayProtests.org to find an event near you.

ChangeWalmart.org | We’ll Be Back! Black Friday Pledge


black friday 2013ChangeWalmart.org | We’ll Be Back! Black Friday Pledge.

Getting Ahead on the Backs of Others by Jim Hightower on Creators.com – A Syndicate Of Talent


Getting Ahead on the Backs of Others by Jim Hightower on Creators.com – A Syndicate Of Talent.

Our old friend, Jim Hightower, for some months now my favourite Texan, is clearly in a filleting mood, a kitchen skill he executes deftly on the Waltons…and I don’t mean the maudlin family soap of the 60s.

Having been raised in a small-business family and now running my own small outfit, I always find it heartwarming to see hardworking, enterprising folks get ahead.

So I was really touched when I read that, even in these hard times, one extended family with three generations active in their enterprise is hanging in there and doing well. Christy, Jim, Alice, Robbie, Ann and Nancy are their names — and with good luck and old-fashioned pluck, they have managed to build a fairly sizeable family nest egg. In fact, it totals right at $103 billion for the six of them. Yes, six people, 100-plus billion bucks. That means that these six hold more wealth than the entire bottom 40 percent of American families — a stash of riches greater than the combined wealth of some 127 million Americans.

How touching is that?

The “good luck” that each of them had is that they were either born into or married into the Walton family, which makes them heirs to the Walmart fortune. That’s where the “pluck” comes in, for the world’s biggest retailer plucks its profits from the threadbare pockets of low-wage American workers and impoverished sweatshop workers around the world.

Four of the Walton heirs rank as the sixth, ninth, 10th and 11th richest people in our country, possessing a combined net worth of $95 billion. But bear in mind that “net worth” has no relationship to worthiness — these people did nothing to earn their wealth; they just inherited it. And, as Walmart plucks more from workers, the heirs grow ever luckier. In recent years, while the wealth of the typical family plummeted by 39 percent, the Waltons saw their wealth grow by 22 percent — without having to lift a finger.

How odd then that the one-percenters (on in this case, the 1/100 of one-percenters) are hailing themselves as our country’s “makers,” while snidely referring to workaday people as “takers.” With the Waltons, it’s the exact opposite.

Indeed, you’d think that the Bentonville billionaires would realize that their fortunes are tied directly to these disparage. Apparently, they’re unaware that America’s economic recovery cannot truly be measured in the performance of the stock market but instead should be gauged by the sock market.

Most economists, pundits and politicos see today’s boom in stocks and say: “See, the recovery is going splendidly!” But they should go to such stores as Kohl’s, Target and even the Walton’s very own Walmart and find out what’s selling.

The answer would be socks. Even in the present back-to-school season (usually the second-biggest buying spree of the year), sales are sluggish at best, with customers foregoing any spending on their kids except for socks, underwear and other essentials.

 

This is not only an economic indicator but also a measure of the widening inequality in America. The highly ballyhooed “recovery” has been restricted to the few at the top who own nearly all of the stocks, get paychecks of more than $100,000 a year and shop at upscale stores. But meanwhile, the many don’t have any cash to spare beyond necessities. Walmart’s chief financial officer seems puzzled by this reality. There is, as he put it last week, “a general reluctance of customers to spend on discretionary items.”

Golly, sir, why are those ingrates reluctant? Could it be because job growth in our supremely wealthy country has been both lackluster and miserly? Yes — jobs today are typically very low paying, part-time and temporary with no benefits. Mr. Walmart-man should know this, since his retail behemoth is the leading culprit in downsizing American jobs to a poverty level in order to further enrich those at the very top, including Christy, Jim, Alice, Robbie, Ann and Nancy. In recent months, corporate honchos at the Arkansas headquarters have directed Walmart managers not to hire at all or to concentrate on hiring temporary and part-time workers, while cutting the hours of many full-time employees

Since the Great Recession “ended” in 2009, Walmart has slashed 100,000 people from its U.S. workforce, even as it added some 350 stores. In addition, while the giant banked more than $4 billion in profit just in the last three months, the chieftains changed the corporate rules to make it harder and costlier for employees to get Walmart’s meager health care plan.

Yet, executives wonder why customers aren’t buying “discretionary” items. Hello — even your own workers can’t afford to buy anything in the store besides socks.

Walmart Workers Launch First-Ever ‘Prolonged Strikes’ Today | The Nation


Walmart Workers Launch First-Ever ‘Prolonged Strikes’ Today | The Nation.

Here’s the world turned upside down…and not before time.  Let’s all show some solidarity.

Walmart employees are on strike in Miami, Massachusetts and the California Bay Area this morning, kicking off what organizers promise will be the first “prolonged strikes” in the retail giant’s history. The union-backed labor group OUR Walmart says that at least a hundred workers have pledged to join the strikes, and that some workers walking off the job today will stay out at least through June 7, when Walmart holds its annual shareholder meeting near Bentonville, Arkansas.

Organizers expect retail employees in more cities to join the work stoppagewhich follows the country’s first-ever coordinated Walmart store strikes last October, and a high-profile Black Friday walkout November 23. Like Black Friday’s, today’s strike is being framed by the union-backed labor group OUR Walmart as a response to retaliation against worker-activists.

After previous one-day strikes, San Leandro, California, Walmart employee Dominic Ware told The Nation last night, “We’ve seen that Walmart is trying to hold out the best that they can. So I’m planning on going on strike as long as it takes.”