As America's largest company, with more than $285 billion in sales and more than
$10 billion in profits, Wal-Mart has a responsibility to set the standard for
customers, workers, families and communities. America's largest employer —
with nearly 1.3 million workers — must reflect America's values.
Wal-Mart is not the victim of globalization, lower wages and lack of health insurance.
More accurately, Wal-Mart's business practices created many of these problems
in America today. Look at the record.
A company that reflects America's values doesn't pay below poverty-level wages
to its workers. At 34 hours per week (full-time at Wal-Mart), the average Wal-Mart
associate makes $17,114 per year, well below the poverty level for a family
A company that reflects America's values doesn't have 660,000 of its employees
without company-provided health insurance, forcing workers to seek taxpayer-funded
public assistance. In fact, in 11 of the 12 states that have disclosed employers
who have employees on Medicaid, Wal-Mart tops the list. In Georgia, for example,
a state survey found more than 10,000 Wal-Mart employees on Medicaid —
14 times the next highest employer.
A company that reflects America's values doesn't ask taxpayers to subsidize
its $10 billion in profits. A U.S. congressional study found that Wal-Mart costs
you, the American taxpayer, up to $2.5 billion in public assistance. One newspaper
editorial titled it, "Wal-Mart Welfare."
A company that reflects America's values doesn't put profits before its people,
morality and the law. In the past few months, Wal-Mart agreed to pay a record
fine for exploiting illegal immigrants and settled extensive child labor violations.
It still faces the largest gender discrimination lawsuit, 1.6 million women,
in U.S. history for unfair pay and unequal promotion.
Wal-Mart is not creating jobs in our communities. Wal-Mart's business practices
simply exchange decent jobs with health benefits for lower-paying jobs and taxpayer-subsidized
health care. The truth is Wal-Mart is forcing good-paying American jobs overseas.
Wal-Mart is creating an America of lower wages, no health care and lack of retirement
We think it's time for Wal-Mart to wake up.
Joe Hansen is president of United Food and Commercial Workers.