Friday, July 04, 2003

Walmart: You Can Work Here, You Can Even Be Gay, But You Can't Shop Here

You may have noticed recent news articles about how Walmart has decided not to discriminate against gay people. How 21st century of them!

Unfortunately, their wages and benefits are still back in the 19th century.Here's a very interesting article found on the Kansas City AFL-CIO website about how impossible it is for Walmart employees to actually be able to afford to shop at Walmart.
On a June Sunday, my adult son and daughter joined me for a visit to the Wal-Mart Supercenter in Salina. We spent an hour and a half wandering among the hundreds of red, blue, and yellow "Always Low Prices" signs. We checked many of those prices and then went home to do some calculating.

Our conclusion: A single parent employed full-time at Salina’s Wal-Mart and raising children aged 4 and 12 does not earn enough money to supply the family’s basic needs by shopping at that same Wal-Mart.
Luckily, the federal government (e.g. taxpayers) is subsidizing Walmart's low wages.
Back here in America, the government implicitly recognizes the insufficiency of Wal-Mart wages. Our cashier’s family would be eligible for an Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) of $4140 in 2002. That would close the gap between the cashier’s wage and bare survival, and provide enough additional income to lift the family just above the poverty line.

EITC, food stamps, Medicaid, and state programs like Kansas’ childcare allowance are needed because corporations like Wal-Mart refuse to pay their employees a sufficient wage for the work they do. Seen from that angle, those programs are simply corporate welfare.
But Walmart doesn't think its employees need a union. Seems like the Bush administration should be supporting organizing efforts just to get Walmart off of corporate welfare.