Walmart has many distinctions. It is the largest corporation in the world—in 2010, Walmart brought in $408 billion. It is the largest retailer in the world. It is the largest retailer of food in the world. It's also one of the worst employers and corporate citizens in the world—not only to its direct store employees, but also to the subcontracted warehouse workers that ensure that Walmart’s goods make it to the stores on time.
The average hourly wage of a Walmart store employee is $8.81. Walmart store employees usually aren’t able to work full-time and can’t afford the premiums for the health insurance offered by the company. So Walmart actually tells its employees how to apply for Medicaid and publicly funded health insurance for their kids. While you enjoy your Thanksgiving meal with family, Walmart employees will be at their store preparing to open at 8 p.m. that night.
For Walmart warehouse workers in Southern California and outside Chicago, low pay is also a major problem. Often, the warehouse workers are paid by “production”—meaning, for each truck that they unload, they are paid a set rate. One worker told the Food Chain Workers Alliance that he was paid $62 to unload a truck—that took him a day and a half, so the $62 did not even cover minimum wage per hour. Injuries and illnesses are also common, as they are for Walmart store employees.
Walmart store workers and warehouse workers have been organizing to demand respect on the job and improved wages and working conditions, and they have won some improvements. But many of these workers have also been retaliated against for organizing. They have had their hours cut, schedules changed, and some workers have even been fired. Walmart has even attempted to silence them by filing charges against the union UFCW that is supporting the workers. But they’re not giving up—these workers are going out on strike.
So this Black Friday, pledge to not shop at Walmart and instead find an action or event near you to show your support for striking Walmart store and warehouse workers!
GOOD is urging the community to resist the urge to volunteer around the holidays—the time of year when food banks and soup kitchens have more helping hands than they need. Join in volunteering smarter and commit to serving on a day when the need is far greater.