November 20, 2012
Washington, DC – The following is a statement issued by United Food and Commercial Workers International Union President Joseph Hansen in response to a new report released today by Demos, “Retail’s Hidden Potential: How Raising Wages Would Benefit Workers, the Industry and the Overall Economy,” which calls on retailers to raise wages:
“One million UFCW members working in retail in the U.S. concur with Demos’ evidence that retailers, workers and the U.S. economy will benefit from retail companies investing in their workforce.
“The report outlines that raising wages for full-time retail workers at the nation’s largest retail companies (those employing at least 1,000 workers) would result in improving the lives of more than 1.5 million retail workers and their families who are currently living in or hovering above poverty. Higher wage increases would create more purchasing power for retail workers, which would generate $4 to $5 billion in additional annual sales for the industry, keep prices low for shoppers, and create more than 100,000 jobs.
“Walmart, for instance, paid its top executives $59 million in compensation in the last fiscal year and can clearly afford to pay their workers more. The Walton family—whose combined family fortune is estimated to be $100 billion—has chosen to engage in elaborate stock buybacks that take earned corporate profits and put them back into the hands of shareholders. For Walmart, stock buybacks have been the reason the Walton family’s interest in the company has risen to 51 percent—shifting the control of a so-called public company into the hands of a private family.
“The UFCW calls on retail employers like Walmart to heed this research and lead the way in making sure that retail jobs are good jobs with benefits that can support a family so that more retail workers have a pathway to the middle class.”
The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) represents more than 1.3 million workers, primarily in the retail and meatpacking, food processing and poultry industries. The UFCW protects the rights of workers and strengthens America’s middle class by fighting for health care reform, living wages, retirement security, safe working conditions and the right to unionize so that working men and women and their families can realize the American Dream. For more information about the UFCW’s effort to protect workers’ rights and strengthen America’s middle class join our online community at http://www.facebook.com/ufcwinternational and https://twitter.com/UFCW.