People of Color

Walmart Keeps Our Communities in Poverty

Walmart is the largest employer of African-Americans in the United States.[1] About 19% of Walmart’s 1.4 million US workers are African-American.[2]

Unfortunately, Walmart jobs keep our communities in poverty—wages average just $8.81/hour.[3] A full-time Walmart associate earns less than 70 percent of the 2013 federal poverty line for a family of four.

At the same time, workers at Walmart struggle to get the hours they need to make ends meet. Nearly 40% of African-American part-time retail workers would like to work full-time if they could get the hours.[4]

People of color are underrepresented in management jobs at Walmart

Walmart’s low wages are not good for any workers, but minorities are disproportionately represented in low-paying positions. While people of color made up 37% of Walmart’s US workforce in 2012, only 27% of first and mid-level officials and managers were minorities.[5]

Walmart is a Job Killer in Our Communities

Walmart store openings destroy almost three local jobs for every two they create by reducing retail employment by an average of 2.7 percent in every county they enter.[6]

Walmart’s warehouses employ contracted workers, many of them minorities, who face harassment and intimidation at work, wage and hour violations, and unsafe working conditions. In Southern California’s Inland Empire, the majority of logistics workers are Latinos,[7] and the majority of warehouse workers in the Chicago area are Latino and African-American.[8] In Southern California and Illinois in fall 2011, Walmart’s warehouse workers filed class action wage theft lawsuits against Walmart’s logistics contractors. The California Department of Labor issued citations and fines to Walmart logistics contractors for labor violations.[9] And in November 2012, Walmart was named as a defendant in the lawsuit.[10]

In February 2009, Walmart paid $17.5 million to settle a class-action lawsuit in which plaintiffs claimed that Walmart discriminated against African-American truck driver applicants. The case was brought by Daryal Nelson of Mississippi in 2004 and applied to applicants at Walmart distribution centers in Mississippi, Tennessee, Arkansas, Louisiana, Texas, Alabama, Georgia, Florida, and North Carolina.[11]

civrightsWalmart and Waltons Politics and the African-American community

Walmart and the Waltons have disproportionately supported politicians who vote the wrong way on civil rights.

The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights evaluated the 112th Congress based on votes including misguided attempts to protect voter ID laws, attacks on worker rights, the Ryan budget, and extending Bush-era tax cuts.[12] A comparison of this scorecard with the Walmart PAC and Waltons’ contributions from 2005 to 2012 shows that, among candidates with scores, the Walmart PAC and Waltons favored candidates who failed to protect civil rights.[13] In fact, 85% of the Waltons’ contributions went to candidates with scores of 25 below, out of 100.

Supporting voter suppression and stand your ground laws through ALEC

Walmart and the Walton Family Foundation were a longtime members of the controversial American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). ALEC is infamous for promoting legislation that advances a conservative ideological agenda and benefits its members at the expense of everyone else.

ALEC helped propagate the notorious “Stand Your Ground” law linked to the killing of Trayvon Martin in Florida in February 2012. The law, which initially shielded Martin’s shooter from arrest in weeks following the killing, came out of an ALEC working committee co-chaired by a Walmart executive in 2005. [14]

Other legislation supported by the right-wing group and its members includes the recent round of voter suppression laws introduced in 27 states. Supporters of discriminatory voter ID laws claim they want to reduce voter fraud, but such fraud almost never actually occurs, and never in amounts large enough to impact the result of elections.[15] These laws have a disproportionate impact on the poor, the elderly, and people of color.

In May 2012, amid intense public pressure, Walmart withdrew from ALEC. However, there is no evidence that the Walton Family Foundation has withdrawn from ALEC, despite the fact that civil rights leaders and others have called on them to do so.


[1] “What’s At Stake.” Walmart Chicago. http://www.walmartchicago.com/whats-at-stake/, accessed 1.27.12.

[2] http://corporate.walmart.com/global-responsibility/diversity-inclusion

[3] http://old.gothamgazette.com/article/searchlight/20110214/203/3463

[4] US Census Bureau, Current Population Survey, Table 17: Employed and unemployed full-and part-time wate and salary workers by intermediate industry, sex, race. Annual average 2011.

[5] http://corporate.walmart.com/global-responsibility/diversity-inclusion

[6] Neumark, David, Junfu Zhang, and Stephen Ciccarella, January 2007. “The Effects of Wal-Mart on Local Labor Markets.” Institute for the Study of Labor Discussion Paper #2545, University of Bonn. papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=958704

[7] www.warehouseworkersunited.org/fileadmin/userfiles/20090218-WarehouseWorkersPaper.pdf

[8] www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/04/12/walmart-contracted-warehouse-workers_n_848262.html

[9] inthesetimes.com/working/entry/12159/california_walmart_warehouses_feel_the_heat/; www.inthesetimes.com/working/entry/7009/walmart_warehouse_workers_file_class_action_lawsuit/; www.dir.ca.gov/DIRNews/2011/IR2011-24.html

[10] http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/11/30/walmart-worker-lawsuit-warehouse_n_2219643.html?utm_hp_ref=business

[11] http://www.nytimes.com/2009/02/21/business/21walmart.html

[12] http://civilrightsdocs.info/pdf/voting-record/leadership-conference-voting-record-112-congress.pdf

[13] Political contributions data provided by the Center for Responsive Politics. https://www.opensecrets.org/

[14] http://walmart1percent.org/2012/03/27/whats-the-walmart-connection-to-the-shooting-of-trayvon-martin/

[15] http://www.propublica.org/article/everything-youve-ever-wanted-to-know-about-voter-id-laws

  • Bea

    Perhaps the reason people of color are under represented in management is lack of work ethic, skills, or training in skills needed. Football teams under represent whites…is that discrimination or choosing players based on skills. You liberals are great at whining!

    • http://GrowMap.com Gail Gardner

      Wow. Do you honestly believe that people who drive trucks and move boxes around lack work ethic? That is much harder work than being a manager. And I believe I read that they get docked if they’re 30 seconds late, so you ca’t say they don’t know how to show up on time. Get a clue. Minorities and women are underrepresented in most corporations because they are owned and controlled by primarily older, white males who discriminate against non-white males.

    • Em

      Hello, we’re in the 21st century, here… Get with the program dude

      • WAF94

        Pretty sure all he’s trying to say is that it’s not racism, it’s that the best people are getting selected for the job regardless of race. That idea actually makes perfect sense because as he said Whites are “under-represented” in the NFL. That isn’t because they’re discriminated against, it’s because people of color have turned out to have the skills in demand and perform their job at the highest level. I’m pretty sure that Walmart exists to make profit, as does any other business. Profit is their ultimate motive, so why would they keep a black worker down in a low level job if he could provide the necessary skills to boost profits?

  • miguel

    this is bullcrap

  • miguel

    WHY WOULD PEOPLE LIKE TO BE RACIST