FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Wednesday, October 23, 2013
Congressional Leaders Join Calls for Walmart to Stop Draining Public Resources and Improve Working Conditions, Support Economy
Reps. George Miller and Schakowsky Challenge Walmart to End Reliance on Taxpayers to Support Workforce, Estimated to be $900K per Walmart Store
WASHINGTON, DC – Today, addressing previously unreported comments from Walmart CEO Bill Simon, which demonstrated that as many as 825,000 Walmart workers make less than $25,000 a year, members of Congress and Walmart workers called on the mega-retailer to improve working conditions and end the company’s reliance on taxpayer dollars to support its workforce.
“I support OUR Walmart workers who are simply asking Walmart, a corporation with nearly $17 billion in profits, to pay livable wages,” said Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL). “These workers deserve safe workplaces and the right to speak out for their workplace rights without risking retaliation or being fired. It’s time that Walmart listen to their workers who are here to demand what all Americans want: fair pay, fair rules and fair treatment.”
Walmart workers and supporters have been calling for Walmart, the world’s largest retailer, to improve working conditions, stop retaliation against those who speak out, and increase hours to ensure workers earn a minimum of $25,000 a year for full-time work. In doing so, it would allow workers the ability to cover the basics and help contribute to the economy.
The members of Congress were joined by three of the 825,000 Walmart workers earning less than $25,000 a year.
“I work hard, and I want to be able to support my family and earn enough so I don’t have to rely on public assistance to survive,” said Anthony Goytia, a Walmart worker from California. Goytia, who works full-time, has worked at Walmart for one year and makes less than $16,000 a year. As a result, he relies on SNAP and Medical to keep the family afloat.
In a rare release of information about the company’s wages and benefits, Walmart US CEO Bill Simon discussed details about workers’ annual income in a recent presentation at Goldman Sachs annual retail conference. In the presentation, Simon notes that 475,000 associates earn more than $25,000 a year. With 1.3 million associates in the country, this means that somewhere around 825,000 associates earn less than that amount.
Currently, Walmart is making $17 billion in profits annually and the company’s controlling family, the Waltons, have a net worth of more than $144.7 billion. Meanwhile, workers are making low wages and not getting enough hours, forcing many to rely on public programs to support their families even though they work for the country’s largest private employer.
Earlier this year, a Congressional report calculated that Walmart workers are forced to rely on $900,000 in taxpayer funded supports, including food stamps and healthcare, at just one of the company’s 4,000 stores. This number is expected to increase as more workers apply for healthcare through Medicaid because they are ineligible for Walmart healthcare plans.
“Wal-Mart is the nation’s largest private-sector employer, yet they pay such low wages that many of its workers are unable to provide for their families. This is wrong. When workers win, their families win, and we all win. If big corporations like Wal-Mart paid their workers higher wages, families could live better. And federal taxpayers would not have to foot the bill to help them keep their heads above water,” said Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.).
At the forum, Catherine Ruetschlin, a policy analyst from Demos, outlined the economic impact of Walmart increasing annual salaries to $25,000 a year from her report, Retail’s Hidden Potential: How Raising Wages Would Benefit Workers, the Industry and the Overall Economy. The report shows a wage floor equivalent of $25,000 per year for a full-time, year-round employee for retailers with more than 1000 employees would lift 1.5 million retail workers and their families out of poverty or near poverty, add to economic growth, increase retail sales and create more than 100,000 new jobs.
“Putting money in the pockets of Walmart workers is good for the store, good for the economy and good for families,” said Ruetschlin. “We know that when low-wage workers have money to spend, they do. In the case of Walmart workers, that means more spending at the stores they work, more profits for Walmart. It also means more jobs could be created and fewer workers would be forced to rely on public assistance.”