Be Thankful You Have A Job And Other Corporatist Hogwash

image showing A Walmart protest in Maryland in 2012

There was an organized protest of Walmart employees timed for the largest shopping day known as Black Friday. Some cheap labor Republicans complained about the protests saying it was an attack on job creators by Unions. One of my conservative friends said that people should be thankful to have a job. When I hear that excuse for poor treatment of workers it makes me mad. Walmart is one of the worse offenders and if we didn’t have laws against sweat shops they would probably do that too.

Workers at Walmart stores across the country are walking off their jobs to protest the national retailer’s low wages and poor working conditions in an effort to raise public awareness about how the company treats its employees on the busiest shopping day of the year. The strikes, which began earlier this month, are the first in the 50 year history of the company and come just as Walmart reported a 9 percent increase in third-quarter net income, earning $3.63 billion.

Workers are also opposing Walmart’s poor benefits, alleged systematic discrimination against women, and its decision this year to kick off Black Friday on Thursday night. As Fox News reported today, many employees say they fear retaliation for speaking out against the company’s policies

Walmart Workers Protest For Better Wages And Benefits On Black Friday

It seems that WalMart pulled a page out of the playbook of the old school coal barons who use to pay their workers in script that was good only at their company stores that prevented them from leaving for other work:

During an appearance on CNN Tuesday morning, Vice President of Communications David Tovar sought to brush aside the fact that Walmart is paying its associates salaries that are just slightly above the poverty line, even as the company reported a 9 percent increase in third-quarter net income, earning $3.63 billion. He insisted that the company has “got great associates” who are “going to do a great job for us this holiday season.”

But when host Carol Costello pressed Tovar on the growing wealth gap in America and Walmart’s role in insuring a robust middle class, he dodged the question, but not before suggesting that the store offers associates a discount to buy Walmart products (and invest their pay checks back into the company)

CNN Confronts Walmart Spokesperson Over Retailer’s Low Wages, Poor Working Conditions

Not only does Walmart treat its employees shabbily but they pay so little that most have to turn to the social safety net to survive:

At over $446 billion per year, Walmart is the third highest revenue grossing corporation in the world. Walmart earns over $15 billion per year in pure profit and pays its executives handsomely. In 2011, Walmart CEO Mike Duke – already a millionaire a dozen times over – received an $18.1 million compensation package. The Walton family controlling over 48 percent of the corporation through stock ownership does even better. Together, members of the Walton family are worth in excess of $102 billion – which makes them one of the richest families in the world.

What is shameful is that CEO Mike Duke makes more money in one hour, than his employees earn in an entire year. Yet, Walmart – which employs millions of people in its stores, distribution centers, and warehouses – continues to abuse its employees and refuses to pay them a livable wage. The company has frequently been charged with wage theft claims by workers who point to the most common forms of wage theft: the refusal to pay proper overtime, the refusal to honor the minimum wage, and illegal paycheck deductions.

Walmart’s employees receive $2.66 billion in government help every year, or about $420,000 per store. They are also the top recipients of Medicaid in numerous states. Why does this occur? Walmart fails to provide a livable wage and decent healthcare benefits, costing U.S. taxpayers an annual average of $1.02 billion in healthcare costs. This direct public subsidy is being given to offset the failures of an international corporate giant who shouldn’t be shifting part of its labor costs onto the American taxpayers.

Walmart: America’s real ‘Welfare Queen’

The counter argument from cheap labor conservatives is if the employees hate it so much then they should find another job. If only it were that easy. Many Walmarts drive all the other smaller mom & pop stores out of business so there are no other jobs to move to.

Wal-Mart store openings kill three local jobs for every two they create by reducing retail employment by an average of 2.7 percent in every county they enter.

Chain stores, like Wal-Mart send most of their revenues out of the community, while local businesses keep more consumer dollars in local economy: for every $100 spent in locally owned businesses, $68 stayed in the local economy while chain stores only left $43 to re-circulate

New Study: Wal-Mart Means Fewer Jobs, Less Small Businesses, More Burden on Taxpayers

Also the Walton family, who own a majority stake in the company, has a combined wealth MORE than the bottom 40% of the whole country! The only thing missing is a big dude carrying a cat-o-nine tails like the despots of yore.

So as you fight with someone over a $150 TV this holiday season remember that your greed for a low price lets places like WalMart hurt their employees. And you aren’t really saving anything since your tax dollars are subsidizing WalMart’s low wages and poor working conditions.

More information: OURWalMart