In corporate America, the basic business model says the cream is at the top and the dredges are at the bottom. Wal-Mart boasts of rolling back prices to bring economic relief to its consumers. But something is wrong with this picture. One suggestion is that the vast majority of Wal-Mart’s workforce is living just below the poverty line. They receive no benefits, and many qualify for food stamps. Yet this family-owned mom and pop mega-chain boasts its chief executive officer earned $23.2 million last year.
Some say changes are brewing as the new CEO steps in next year. Others say why rock the boat when the profits are booming. Yet labor disputes have been on the front page of the newspapers for months. Wal-Mart has some of the most valuable retail reputations the world over. It had revenue of $469 billion this year, and its $27.8 billion in profits are staggering. Yet the numbers say the average Wal-Mart worker makes just over $18,000 a year – the figure is based on a 40-hour work week for a year and without any taxes taken out. However, according to OUR Walmart, the average salary works out to about $9 an hour, with most employees only working 34 hours each week. Using those numbers, the average salary is only $15,500.
This is not the first time grumbling grievances have surfaced against the mega-retailer. Just recently, a large group protested outside a West Coast store and resulted in 50 arrests. At the center of the dispute is the desire for the workers to have a fair working wage. This concerns all of the country, since the federal subsidies most workers are eligible for is $44 million – just in California alone.
Reports indicate that the company continues to make money hand over first, but very little of this trickles down to its hard-workers. In a recent CNN report, it was claimed that the store could grant its employees double what they are earning now and still make their shareholders happy. An 10 percent raise was used by Google a few years ago, and it eventually raised the price of Google shares 60 percent.
If Wal-Mart wants to roll back its prices, it should consider fair pay practices so the employees can join the ranks of those who are not having to dip into food stamps and housing allowance to subsidize their salaries.
ibtimes.com, “Wal-Mart Says ‘Save Money Live Better,’ But Workers Don’t Make Living Wage And Rely On State Benefits” Christopher Harress, Nov. 27, 2013