Because I’m sure the favorite part of their employees’ day was definitely not when they had to leave their families Thanksgiving night to work at Walmart.
Consider where you want your hard-earned money going on Black Friday. Maybe you don’t want it going straight into the already heavy-lined pockets of the Walton children and their over-paid CEO?
[Walmart's] role as [the] marginal employer [in many US counties] often serves to drive down workers’ wages county-wide. …Concretely, between 2007 and 2010, while median family wealth fell by 38.8 percent, the wealth of the Walton family members rose from $73.3 billion to $89.5 billion …In 2007, it was reported that the Walton family wealth was as large as the bottom 35 million families in the wealth distribution combined, or 30.5 percent of all American families. And in 2010, as the Walton’s wealth has risen and most other Americans’ wealth declined, it is now the case that the Walton family wealth is as large as the bottom 48.8 million families in the wealth distribution (constituting 41.5 percent of all American families) combined.
current: Before you hit the streets on Black Friday to shop till you drop here are some key figures about Wal-Mart’s powerful position compared to its employees that might make you think twice about what retailers to support.
1.3 million – Wal-Mart employees in the United States. Wal-Mart is the largest private employer in the world.
$15.7 billion – Wal-Mart’s 2011 profits. The company is currently number 2 on the Fortune 500.
$8.75 per hour – average starting salary for a new Wal-Mart employee. That’s turns out to be an annual salary of $15,500, which is about even with the federal poverty level for a 2-person household.
$8,653 per hour – Wal-Mart CEO Michael Duke’s $18 million annual salary converted to a 40 hour-a-week hourly wage.
$13 per hour – Hourly wage the OUR Walmart group is demanding from Wal-Mart.
$4.83 million – The fine Wal-Mart agreed to pay the U.S. Department of Labor in 2012 for failing to pay overtime wages to more than 4,500 employees nationwide, .
$56,068.58 – Online donations received to sponsor striking employees on Black Friday.
12 – number of cities where Wal-Mart is currently facing strikes since October 4, 2012.
0 – number of strikes Wal-Mart has faced since 1962.
$312 billion — Wal-Mart’s revenue in 2005.
4,700 – number of children of Wal-Mart’s Alabama employees receiving Medicare assistance in 2005.
16 million – the number of US children – that’s 1 in 6 – that struggle with hunger. As Current has previously reported, roughly 20 percent of American children live in a home with parents who are unable to regularly put food on the table.
According to Pat Garofalo at Think Progress, Walmart heirs have a combined wealth equal to the bottom 40% of Americans combined:
“Last year, Sylvia Allegretto, a labor economist at the Center on Wage and Employment Dynamics, found that as of 2007, the Walton family — heirs to the Walmart fortune — had a net worth equal to that of the bottom 30 percent of Americans. And due to the effects of the Great Recession that ratio has gotten substantially worse. New Federal Reserve data analyzed by both Allegretto and Josn Bivens at the Economic Policy Institute shows that the Waltons now hold as much wealth as the bottom 40 percent of Americans combined.”
So? Didn’t they ‘earn’ their wealth — should we punish the Walton family for being this wildly successful? As Garofalo points out, the federal government (i.e. the Republican Party / tax laws) have helped to redistribute money towards the Walton fortune as much as anything:
“At the same time that the Waltons have amassed an ever larger fortune, Congress decided to cut the estate tax, a policy for which the Waltons have been pushingfor years. And now that the estate tax cut is in place, conservatives are doing everything they can to ensure it doesn’t go away, allowing the Waltons to amass even larger amounts of wealth.”
And as president, Mitt Romney would like to redistribute even more money to the Waltons by implementing further tax cuts for those in the elite one percent class (himself included).
Further, let’s not forget that the Walton family fortune has been built on the backs of their low-wage employees:
“[Walmart] employees on average take home pay of under $250 a week. The salary for full-time employees (called “associates”) is $6 to $7.50 an hour for 28-40 hours a week, which is typical in the discount retail industry. This pay scale places employees with families below the poverty line, with the majority of employees’ children qualifying for free lunch at school. When closely examined, this amounts to a form of corporate welfare, as the taxpayer subsidizes the low salaries. One-third are part-time employees – limited to less than 28 hours of work per week – and are not eligible for benefits.”
So every taxpayer, in any community where a Walmart is located, has helped to subsidize the Walton family’s employees — and by extension, the Walton family fortune. Instead of expecting them to pay their workers a living wage and provide affordable benefits (remember labor unions?), taxpayers have helped the Waltons pocket a selfishly unequal amount of their profits. Profits, by the way, which are created by selling goods from other countries, like China:
“Despite a well-publicized “Made in the U.S.A.” campaign, 85 percent of the stores’ items are made overseas, often in Third World sweatshops. In fact, only after Wal-Mart’s “Buy American” ad campaign was in full swing did the company become the country’s largest importer of Chinese goods in any industry. By taking its orders abroad, Wal-Mart has forced many U.S. manufacturers out of business.”
The Walton family is a basic story of how many in the elite one percent acquire their fortunes (ingenuity and hard work or by cheating with a lot of help from others including all levels of government). It’s this kind of information, ultimately, that people like Mitt Romney would like to withhold from public scrutiny. One doesn’t willingly reveal how one’s fortune was made, where it came from, who was sacrificed, and how it’s being used now by turning over one’s tax returns to the rabble. That could turn out to be rather distasteful.