Group calls on Walton family to stop taking advantage of taxpayer programs to support low-wage model & instead, pay workers $15 an hour and provide full-time work
If the Waltons fail to respond, protestors promise to return to Walmart stores on Black Friday
New York and Washington, DC – Forty-two Walmart workers and their supporters were arrested today calling on Walmart’s owners to stop robbing workers a fair wage and passing the bill on to taxpayers. Without a public commitment from the Waltons to raise pay at Walmart, the group refused to disperse, shutting down Park Avenue in front of Alice Walton’s new penthouse in New York and K Street in front of the Walton Family Foundation in DC. Last year, Walmart’s former CEO confirmed that the majority of Walmart workers are paid less than $25,000 a year.
“My grandkids go hungry because of low pay at Walmart,” said Sandra Sok, a Walmart worker in Phoenix. “I’ll do whatever it takes to make these billionaires and Walmart see what they’re doing to our families.”
“We are tired of seeing the Waltons enjoy every luxury this world can offer while the workers that build their wealth are unable to pay their bills,” said Interfaith Worker Justice Executive Director Kim Bobo. “Income inequality will only be addressed when the Waltons and Walmart provide fair pay and regular hours to their workers. I’m here today taking a stand for Walmart workers, and I’ll be back on Black Friday with thousands of others who have had enough of Walmart’s destruction of the American Dream.”
Before the arrests, the group delivered a petition signed by workers from 1,710 of Walmart stores in all 50 states. The petition calls on Walmart to publicly commit raise pay to $15 an hour and provide consistent, full-time hours. The actions today follow protests yesterday in Phoenix, AZ, where Walmart associates and community members delivered the petition to Walmart chair Rob Walton.
“The Waltons have made it impossible for me to get ahead and make sure my daughter goes to bed in a warm home,” said Fatmata Jabbie,a Walmart worker who delivered the petition to the Walton Family Foundation in Washington, DC. “The Waltons can choose to turn things around and stop robbing working Americans like me who just want to raise our families. We need $15 an hour and consistent full-time work—now.”
The Walton family, which controls the Walmart empire, is the richest family in the U.S.—with the wealth of 43% of American families combined. While many Walmart workers are unable to feed and clothe their families on their pay of less than $25,000 a year, the Walton family takes in $8.6 million a day in Walmart dividends alone to build on its $150 billion in wealth. Walmart brings in $16 billion in annual profits.
“Right now, corporate profits are at an all-time high while wages are lower than any time since 1948,” said Rep. Grijalva. “Walmart alone rakes in $16 billion a year while enjoying $8 billion in tax breaks and subsidies, but refuses to pay employees enough to put food on the table or clothes on their back. Many of their employees are forced to rely on taxpayer-funded programs, meaning the American taxpayers are paying for the Walton family’s refusal to pay a decent wage. It’s time to end this scam, and ensure all workers have the decency of a livable wage and full-time work.”
Walmart workers depend on food stamps and other taxpayer-supported programs to support their families. Walmart—the standard-setter for jobs in the retail industry—has created a norm of erratic, part-time scheduling that is keeping workers from getting the hours they need, holding down second jobs, arranging child care, going to school or managing health conditions.
The protests today come at a time when OUR Walmart members have made significant strides creating change at the country’s largest employer. OUR Walmart member Richard Reynoso, who sent a letter to Walmart about the new dress code policy, not only pushed the company to live up to its Buy America commitment with the new vests; his manager gave him full-time hours in response to his concerns about affording new clothing on his low pay. OUR Walmart members have had similar hours victories—through petitions and meetings with managers—in the San Francisco Bay Area, Dallas, Florida, Southern California, Louisiana and Chicago. Walmart improved its pregnancy policy recently after OUR Walmart members, who are also shareholders, submitted a resolution to the company about its pregnancy policy. And, responding to OUR Walmart members’ growing calls on the retailer to improve access to hours, Walmart rolled out a new system nationwide that allows workers to sign up for open shifts in their stores online.
A report released earlier this year by Americans for Tax Fairness showed that by dodging taxes, exploiting loopholes and taking advantage of taxpayer subsidies, Walmart and the Waltons received an estimated $7.8 billion in tax breaks and subsidies in 2013. And while many taxpayers struggle to stretch paychecks, the richest family in the country has avoided an estimated $3 billion in taxes by using specialized trusts to dodge estate taxes.
National public policy organization Demos released a report this yearshowing low-pay and erratic scheduling keep millions of hard-working Americans—particularly women—near poverty. The report finds that establishing a new wage floor equivalent to $25,000 per year for fulltime, year round work at retail companies employing at least 1,000 workers would improve the lives of more than 3.2 million female retail workers and lift 900,000 women and their families directly out of poverty or near poverty.
LEGAL DISCLAIMER: UFCW and OUR Walmart have the purpose of helping Wal-Mart employees as individuals or groups in their dealings with Wal-Mart over labor rights and standards and their efforts to have Wal-Mart publically commit to adhering to labor rights and standards. UFCW and OUR Walmart have no intent to have Walmart recognize or bargain with UFCW or OUR Walmart as the representative of Walmart employees.