Americans Call on Obama to Challenge Walmart to End Income Inequality, Take Real Steps Towards Sustainability

Posted by on May 9, 2014 in Press Releases, Walmart Watch Blog | 13 Comments

Citing the Company’s “Neutrality” on the Minimum Wage, Poverty Pay and History of Discriminatory Practices,

AMERICANS CALL ON OBAMA TO CHALLENGE WALMART TO END INCOME INEQUALITY, TAKE REAL STEPS TOWARDS SUSTAINABILITY

 

**For photos, video and live updates as hundreds gather at CA Walmart: Twitter.com/ForRespect**

Washington, DC – Today, responding to President Obama’s call to address the income inequality that he said was the “defining challenge of our time,” Walmart workers, elected officials, faith leaders and prominent environmental and advocacy groups are calling on the president to challenge Walmart to take real steps to improve jobs and protect the environment. The wave of calls for change comes as the president visits a northern California Walmart store in Mountain View, CA, where hundreds of people are rallying and asking him to challenge the low-wage employer to improve jobs.

“When I heard President Obama was visiting my store, I wanted to tell him what income inequality really looks like—right here working at the country’s largest employer,” said Pam Ramos a Mountain View Walmart worker. “I bring home $400 every two weeks. That isn’t enough to cover the bills, and all I can afford to eat for lunch is a cup of coffee and a bag of potato chips. The president needs to know there is no solution to end income inequality in this country that doesn’t include improving jobs at Walmart. We are here today to ask him to stand with us in calling on Walmart to raise wages and pay my co-workers and me a minimum of $25,000 a year for full-time work.”

In addition to the hundreds that rallied outside of the store, 32 groups including, Global Exchange, Jobs with Justice, Moveon.org, and Rainforest Action Network, signed onto the joint statement below:

“It’s hard to understand why President Obama, who has stated that inequality is the ‘defining issue of our time’ and stressed the need to tackle climate change, has decided to visit Walmart—a company known for paying low wages and doing little to address its poor environmental record.

“Walmart is making no progress on clean energy. In fact, it is going backwards. According to the EPA its use of renewable energy has dropped in the last two years and just 3 percent of Walmart’s power comes from its wind and solar projects. Nine years ago it said it wanted to become a sustainability leader. Instead, it lags behind many of its competitors and small businesses already using 100% renewable energy.

“Even though the company makes $16 billion in profits, hundreds of thousands of Walmart workers are paid less than $25,000 a year. Pam Ramos, who works at the Mountain View Walmart the President is visiting, is living in her car because low wages and medical bills keep her from covering the rent.

“We are asking the President to challenge Walmart to help strengthen the American economy and protect our environment by becoming a leader in sustainability and creating better jobs. The country’s largest employer should not only be supporting the bill to raise the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour, it should be providing workers a minimum of $25,000 a year and full-time work.”

The groups who signed the joint statement:

  • Change to Win
  • Cincinnati Interfaith Workers Center
  • Coalition of Labor Union Women
  • ColorOfChange
  • Environmental Action
  • Fair World Project
  • Food and Water Watch
  • Food Chain Workers Alliance
  • FWAF
  • Global Exchange
  • Institute for Local Self-Reliance
  • Interfaith Worker Justice
  • Jobs with Justice
  • Jobs with Justice SF
  • LAANE
  • Labor Council for Latin American Advancement
  • Making Change at Walmart, Puget Sound
  • Massachusetts Jobs With Justice
  • Moveon.org
  • Rainforest Action Network
  • RH Reality Check
  • Right to the City Alliance
  • The Other 98%
  • The Ruckus Society
  • UFCW 152 NJ.
  • UFCW 1776
  • UFCW local 1473
  • UFCW Local 555
  • United Students Against Sweatshops
  • USAction
  • Warehouse Worker Resource Center
  • Western Massachusetts Jobs with Justice

Walmart workers—part of OUR Walmart—have been taking the country’s income inequality head on by calling on the giant retailer to publicly commit to ending retaliation against workers and provide better wages for workers. While the majority of associates are paid less than $25,000 a year, Walmart makes $16 billion in annual profits and the Waltons—the richest family in the country—have a combined wealth of more than $148 billion. Many workers must rely on taxpayer-supported programs like food stamps and public health care just to get by.

Marketplace recently revealed that Walmart is the biggest beneficiary of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, otherwise known as food stamps. Walmart takes 18 percent of all food stamp dollars— or $13 billion in revenue. 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.

Environmentalists have also been calling on the company to take real steps towards sustainability, recently awarding the company the “greenwasher of the year” award for its efforts to talk the talk about sustainability, without taking real, meaningful steps towards even meeting its own goals – or standards in the industry. Just 3 percent of Walmart’s power comes from its wind and solar projects and its use of renewable energy has fallen 25% in the last two years. Walmart continues to lag behind many of its competitors including Kohl’s, Staples, and Whole Foods who are already using 100% renewable energy.

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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.

13 Comments

  1. Tom P Noonan
    May 9, 2014

    it is time for Walmart join the Union for all Walmart Workers and for all Sam’s Club Workers right of way and right now please by make Walmart give all Walmart Workers and all Sam’s Club Workers a Living Wage with Affordable Healthcare right of way and right now please without close down all the Walmart Store and without close down all the Sam’s Wholesalers Club.

    Thank You Very Much
    From Tom P Noonan

    Reply
  2. Billybob 44
    May 9, 2014

    Paying a higher minimum wage, will not end poverty. First, is higher taxes. Second, is higher prices. So what you get in higher wages, you lose with higher prices and higher taxes. BTW what the hell is a living wage, a living wage for 1 person is not the same for another person. Say person A pays $1000.00 a month rent, and person B pays $600.00 a month rent, do they both have the same cost of living? Which one do you base the living wage on?

    Reply
  3. Anonomous
    May 9, 2014

    I make less than that at Walmart. $7.65/hr at less than 35 hrs/wk. The hours are random, so as to eliminate the possibility for a second job. I will need to apply for assistance very soon and will most likely file Bankruptcy and face foreclosure. I have worked hard since I was 10 (delivering papers) and have raised 4 children as a single parent while running a business and going to school. Why must I be subjected to age and sex and wage discrimination. I thought there was a law protecting us. Guess I was wrong and so I’ll be picking up cans and eating dandelions this spring…

    Reply
  4. Naughty
    May 10, 2014

    I work at walmart! I’ve been working my butt off. I encourage customers to come back. I treat each and everyone with respect and dignity. Im a cashier and I work at customer service when we are busy their. Every customers tells me and my managers “They have never ever seen or meet a cashier like me”. I take care if there merchandise with care like they are my own. I individual bag ever brake able item. I put all items accordantly with others. I talk to ever customer like they are my friends. I make sure they would want to come back and shop at Walmart!
    So today went in and asked for more money. They didn’t even want to hear me and said. I would have to wait one year for my .60 cent raise or I can change my position in my 6 month position change and see what’s available. I make 8.30 an hour! Part time. I applied for full time. When I stated they said I would be changed to full time in 6 months. They lied! They cut everyone’s hours. So now one gets bonus and 40 hours a week. Walmart sucks balls!
    I thought the work I put in to this place I should be getting paid at least 12.50!!!
    I will never ever shop at walmart ever And I’m going to tell thousands and millions of people not to shop at Walmart!!
    Walmart will never ever change!
    I’m get my degree and work a real job! Not walmart!
    Boycott Walmart!
    So sad all these workers that put up with walmart!
    I can’t do it anymore!
    I have a heart and I will not stand behind a corporation that treats there works like garbage!!
    I have four kids and I had no choice but to work at walmart! At the time I applied, 3 days later I was hired!
    If I knew then I would have never said yes and kept looking for a job!
    Boycott walmart AMERICA!!

    Reply
    • Billybob 44
      May 29, 2014

      I think you should get a raise, possibly to $15.00 an hour, or better yet $25.00 an hour, wait how about $100.00 an hour. Don’t worry that WalMart has over 2 million employees and so that $8.30 an hour, if you got $12.50 it would be $4.20 an hour more, so if everyone got that raise, it would mean they would be paying $840,000,000 an hour, each and every hour they work. Think about it, how much would that be for the year.
      WalMart has a budget and allots so much for wages, so much for new merchandise and so much for new buildings, ect. So to pay more would mean less employees, maybe you would be one of those let go. They don’t make hundreds of billions of dollars like most people think.

      Reply
  5. Alice Mark
    May 17, 2014

    I personally know a Walmart worker; she struggles with Walmart’s low wages. She is a senior with difficulty in transitioning to a better paying job, due to limited opportunities. We need to move towards decreasing the income gap, like European countries such as Norway.

    Reply
  6. Jane Goldman
    May 19, 2014

    President obama:

    How /Why I voted for you, who knows? You tricked us all.
    And ought to be ashamed of yourself. To honor Walmart for it’s green policy is like honoring Hilter because he believed in zero population growth for Jews and The Roma.
    You, Sir President, are a phoney.
    Jane Goldman MS, RN
    Half Moon Bay, CA.

    Reply
    • nogodsplease
      May 23, 2014

      Lesser only than the greater evil. Get used to living in a plutocracy. Different flavors of “leader” will never breach the gaps in our society; not the way it has come to be structured.

      Reply
  7. Jane Goldman
    May 19, 2014

    I didn’t use profanity, I didn’t threaten anyone, and can’t understand why you won’t publish my email.

    Jane Goldman MS, RN

    Reply
  8. Robin Halsey
    May 19, 2014

    I just wanted to let you know that I’ve done my part in demonstrating to people that Wal-Mart is unethical as an employer and a company that’s allowed to do business in the United. States. As of yesterday, May 18, 2014, I’ve been Wal-Mart free for one full year. I refuse to patronize them and will no longer purchase anything from them even though they are my only “department store” available to me for my household shopping. I’ve turned to online stores and use my grocery stores for purchases that I used to make at Wal-Mart.

    I’m unemployed at age 52 and in order to help me find a sustaining job that I can physically do, I’ve had to turn to education. I’m an unemployed student trying to make ends meet on student loans as my source of income. I’ve donated a few dollars before to the efforts of the employees and ex-employees who are bringing to light the injustices of Wal-Mart’s employment practices but I can no longer provide cash funds. Instead, I’ve demonstrated along with those who are so dedicated by boycotting Wal-Mart and advertising it every chance I get; including my Facebook family and friends.

    Sincerely,
    Robin Halsey
    Belhaven, NC

    Reply
    • Jackie ONeil
      May 21, 2014

      I have to agree with you Robin also have been boycotting Walmart for a couple of years and that really is the extent I can go, as much as would love to give a donation have to realize my fixed income is all I have for survival and am finding it a bit wanting as of late, ha! Anyway at 84 years and grateful for good health and my ability to still comprehend the horror that has befallen America in the last 20 years, I do try locally to help. You know when I retired at 64 had no idea, and my income was adequate but it is today a slap in the face, sorry did retire could have had a good ten years maybe, but thats the breaks. Goodluck in you schooling and know you shall succeed. That goes for everybody working at walmart, your day is coming. Blessings to all. Jackie

      Reply
    • nogodsplease
      May 23, 2014

      I commend you. I have never shopped at Wall-Mart and have been telling family and fiends not to for 20 years. I got my BS at age 50 after putting on hold for single parenthood.

      Reply

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