Low-Wage Work: A Women’s Issue

The following blog post was written OUR Walmart member Rose Campbell of Chicago.

This year on Equal Pay Day, instead of talking about what I could have done with all the money my male counterparts made, I want to talk about the reality of “low-wage” work.

Although few people may realize, the vast majority of workers earning minimum wage in this country are women. In our economy, low-wage work is often another term for what is traditionally seen as women’s work.

I work at Walmart, the world’s largest private employer. My female coworkers and I make up a large portion of the low-wage workforce in our economy. I believe that in order to talk about equal pay, we have to talk about Walmart.

As a grandmother of 14, I would love to live in my own apartment or house where my family could come to visit me. Unfortunately, I cannot afford to do so. After four years of working at Walmart, I make $9.60/hr. Not only is my pay low, but I never receive a full 40 hours a week. Even though I have full-time status, some weeks I get as few as 19 hours. No one can get by on $180 a week in Chicago.

Because I was struggling to make ends meet and couldn’t buy a car, I moved in with a friend who lived close enough to Walmart that I could walk to work. At 58 years old, I am not only forced to share a room, but to share a bed with my friend.

This was not my American dream. And I’m not the only one struggling to get by. I watch my coworkers struggle with the same financial challenges every day.

In 2001, women in hourly positions were found to earn $1.16 less per hour than the already modest wages of our male counterparts. Perhaps most disturbingly, instead of addressing the issues raised in various gender discrimination law suits, Walmart has actively lobbied against equal pay for women – including the Lilly Ledbetter Act, paycheck fairness and paid sick leave.

This is one of the many reasons that I have chosen to stand up. Last year, I joined the worker-led Organization United for Respect at Walmart (OUR Walmart) and chose to go on strike the night before Black Friday. It was a hard choice and I was scared, but I believe that until we stand up together and start naming the names of those who wish to hold us down, nothing will change. I hope my actions as a Walmart worker help to move us one step closer to equality.

5 thoughts on “Low-Wage Work: A Women’s Issue

  1. The “black hole theory” of the minimum wage:

    Physicists theorize that
    inside a black hole the laws of physics breakdown. When the minimum wage
    falls far enough below what the market would bear the laws
    of supply and demand breakdown.
    Doubling today’s federal minimum wage should

    lead to a disproportionate
    explosion of demand for the goods of minimum to median
    wage paying employers.

    If we cut today’s minimum to median wages in half that
    wouldn’t help McDonald’s or Wal-Mart, would

    it? This wage cut must already have taken
    place when we would need to triple
    today’s minimum wage to catch up with doubled

    productivity since 1968 (almost quadruple

    the early 2007 minimum wage — the
    median wage stagnated as productivity doubled
    too).

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/03/18/elizabeth-warren-minimum-wage_n_2900984.html%3Cbr

    Doubling today’s
    minimum wage to $15 an hour would add 50% to
    Wal-Mart’s wages but
    only 5% to Wal-Mart’s prices – 100% to
    McDonald’s wages but 33% to McDonald’s
    prices. $15 an hour being today’s
    median wage, half the workforce would get raises percentage
    multiples of pass through price increases.

    This win-win effect could not go on forever. At $30,000 a
    year consumers would buy a lot more fast food and retail
    items than they will at $15,000 a year – hugely pent-up demand. Going from a
    $30,000 year minimum wage to $40,000 would raise prices
    (3% at Wal-Mart; 11% at McDonald’s)
    but not add much to demand – though some people would have more money to spend — a wash? Somewhere
    in between is the edge of the black hole.

  2. Get additional education to improve your worth to any employer. Wal-Mart and Community College offer free or near free classes to improve yourself We all make decisions in life and have to live with the results of those decisions. Having children without the means to pay for them is never a wise choice. Be positive and spend the effort wasted in protest into something to improve yourself. This has been successful tens of millions of times in America. Just becasue you are getting a late start doesn’t mean you can not do it. Take the first step today.

  3. let get
    Walmart change into United Food And Commercial Workers Unionize Walmart
    Store for all Walmart Cashier Workers and for all Walmart Produce Workers and
    for all Walmart Deli Department Workers and for all Walmart Bakery Department
    Workers and for all Walmart Pharmacy Workers,
    let get Walmart change into Teamster Unionize Walmart Store for all
    Walmart and Sam’s Club Truck Driver Workers and for all Sam’s Club Forklift
    Driver@Stock Person Workers and for all Walmart Stock Person Workers and for
    all Sam’s Club Cashier Workers and for all Sam’s Club Meat Cutter@Meat Wrapper
    Workers and for all Sam’s Club Produce Workers and for all Sam’s Club Deli
    Department Workers and for all Sam’s Club Bakery Department Workers and for all
    Walmart Customer Services Desk Workers and for all Sam’s Club Membership Desk
    Workers and for all Walmart Courtesy Association Workers and for all Sam’s Club
    Cart Attendance Workers and for all Walmart Maintenance Association Workers and
    for all Sam’s Club Maintenance Workers and for all Sam’s Club Pharmacy Workers,
    let get Walmart Change into Communication Workers of America Workers Unionize
    Walmart Store for all Walmart and Sam’ Electronics Workers, let get Walmart
    change into United Auto Workers Unionize Walmart Store for all Walmart
    Tire@Lube Express Workers and for all Sam’s Club Tire@Car Battery Installment
    Workers right of away and right now please by make Walmart give all Walmart
    Workers and all Sam’s Club Workers a Living Wage With Affordable Health Care
    Right of away and right now please without close down all the Walmart Store and
    without close down all the Sam’s Wholesale Club

    Think You Very Much

    From Tom P Noonan

  4. I had worked in a job for years. When a supervisory position opened up, they didn’t ask a single woman in my dept to apply for it. They asked a man from a completely different dept. A coworker said maybe it’s because he has college. I said I have a college diploma too, and have worked here for years.

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