At home and abroad, Wal-Mart workers have little to celebrate
John Logan, professor and director of Labor and Employment Studies, San Francisco State University - 05/02/13 11:00 AM ET
Another May Day has come and gone. Yet American workers have precious little to celebrate. And those working for the nation’s largest private-sector employer, Wal-Mart, have even less to celebrate than most.
Last year, for the first time in the firm’s 50-year history, Wal-Mart employees participated in several strikes and job actions leading up to a national day of protest on Black Friday. The organization representing Wal-Mart employees, OUR Wal-Mart, was protesting against poor pay and benefits, and management retaliation against workers who speak out. This wasn’t the first time that Wal-Mart employees have protested against substandard working conditions, and in the past, Wal-Mart has simply assumed that the protests will eventually die out, especially given employees’ understandable fear of management retribution.
But this time it appears that the Wal-Mart protesters are in it for the long haul. Last week, Wal-Mart workers and their community supporters conducted a “day of action” at 150 stores across the county in support of improved hours and more predictable scheduling for part-time workers. Scheduling problems have long been a source of complaint for the company’s 1.3 million employees. Many of Wal-Mart’s employees work part-time not because they want to, but because they have no other choice. Constant changes to their schedules make it impossible for part-time employees take a second job or return to school. They frequently are forced to rely on public assistance in the form of food stamps and low-income healthcare for survival, and when they do, taxpayers pick up the tab.
Wal-Mart also provides a startling example of the enormous gap between the pay of executives and ordinary workers in the United States. Last year,
They can be thankful to the taxpayers for food and Medicaid at least. Did you know, it has been reported, that according to a WMT manager 80% of the workers in that store are on food stamps. Now multiply thatnation wide, staggering.