Opinion: Our City’s Walmart Employees – Helping them earn a living wage

By Connie Conley, Elk Grove Community Connection | November 24, 2013 |   Do you know who the largest employer is in the Unite...

By Connie Conley, Elk Grove Community Connection | November 24, 2013 |
Do you know who the largest employer is in the United States after the federal government?  It is Walmart.  In Elk Grove, in the recent years, we have gone from one Walmart to three.
Back in 2005, a group was formed called Elk Grove Coalition Advocating Proper Planning (EGCAPP) to stop a Wal Mart Supercenter from being built at the corner of Sheldon and Power Inn Roads.  Some of the opponents were against that Walmart, not wanting it near their homes; others because they were opposed to Walmart’s way of doing business. That grassroots community effort was very successful as Walmart pulled out in less than two months.
However, no matter what your position is on Walmart, I think most will agree, as with any company, the real value, is in their employees.  I am not talking about the high paid executives with their lucrative bonuses; I am talking about people who stock the shelves, the cashiers, what is referred to as support staff. 
These employees are people who work in our community and they deserve sustainable wages, and if they so chose, to be able to afford to work and live in Elk Grove.  But most cannot because they simply do not make enough money; even those working 30 or more hours.  Could you afford to buy a house in Elk Grove making $15,500 a year?  Could you best support your children on that annual wage?  Would your children be able to play sports in our community, as the high schools require parents to subsidize those costs?
These are employees who are the working poor in our community and it is not right. Something has to change here. After all, the combined wealth of Walmart, Sam’s Club, and the Walton family themselves, no matter how much money they give to charity, makes this company and this family the richest in the country. 
So why doesn’t Walmart pay their employees livable wages? They certainly can afford to and more. Is anything being done here?  Yes, there is.  And it is Walmart employees themselves joining others who are standing up, trying to raise awareness, and trying to force what I see as a social change in their own labor movement.  It is called “Making Change at Walmart.”
It is very easy to support this movement as noted in their mission statement, “Around the country, Walmart workers and community members are standing up and calling on Walmart to provide better jobs and be a better neighbor.” All you have to do is go to http://makingchangeatwalmart.org/ and sign the online petition to have your voice heard.
Throughout our country’s history, brave people have stood up for social change.  Now employees in our community are doing the same.  They are the employees who work in our local Walmarts.  By signing this petition, you are supporting those employees who serve you in our community.  By signing this petition, you are standing up for them! 
No matter what your opinion is of Walmart, every employee who works for the company deserves to live above the poverty line and we can help. 
Join this social movement and help raise up good employees who deserve better!

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Soupy Sales said...

Wal-Mart announced plans to open its first retail stores in India and China. Tags on clothes and stickers on items will read, "Made Here."

Q: How can you afford a middle class lifestyle on $10/hour (average pay at Walmart)?

A: By shopping at Walmart!

A new Wal-Mart greeter just couldn't seem to get to work on time. Every day he was a few minutes late, but because he was a good worker, rather than fire him outright, the boss called him for a talk. "Dick, I like your work ethic, and you're a smart guy, but your tardiness is becoming habitual." "Yeah, I know, boss. I'm working on it." "That's good. I hope you succeed. But I must admit: I'm surprised. You're retired from the military. What did they say when you came in late?" "They said, 'Good morning, General!' "

Two elderly Wal-Mart greeters were talking. "Slim, I'm 73 years old now and full of aches and pains. You're about my age; how do you feel?' Slim said, "I feel just like a new-born baby!" "Really, like a new-born baby?" "Yep. No hair, no teeth, and I think I just wet my pants!"

Anonymous said...

So question for you, since when is anyone owned something they haven't worked to achieved? Do you know the reason why someone is a Greeter, Stock person or cashier at Wal-Mart making $9-11 an hour? I'll answer it for you, they don't or haven't acquired the skill set to move up into a higher paying job either because they are very early into the career or they just never had the desire for whatever reason to acquire them.

Now before you go labeling me some 1% who is heartless, I am a proud local union member who went to a trade school and paid for it working 2 jobs with no support from my family and oh and this is while I was supporting my wife and newborn at the time. What you fail to realize is that we are not Europe and there is a reason why we became the greatest country on the planet we did things differently here and guess what we stood out and became great, thru hardwork and personal responsibility, not by whining about some quasi Socialist/Marxist behavior that we are owned something, no we aren't owned anything but Hard Work and Personal Responsibility.

Now let the bashing begin

Capt. Benjamin L. Willard said...

Anon at 11:20 - Good for you! Glad to hear your hard work, training and union job have lifted your economic boat up. But who laid the groundwork for your union membership? Was it the Sam Walton's of the business world or great labor leaders like Samuel Gompers, Walter Reuther or Eugene Debs?

As the worlds largest private sector employer with over 2 million "associates" as Mr. Sam preferred to call them, are you suggesting that the reason this large group of people are subjected to low wages, part time status is because of their own personal sloth?

I might suggest you stand with Walmart employees and demand better wages, better working conditions free of sexual harassment and health benefits that are paid by the employer, not the US taxpayer. Remember, President Reagen broke the back of the PATCO union in 1981, and the labor movement in general. Don't fool yourself it could happen to your union next. Stand with Walmart employees and demand a fair share for them.

Anon you ought to take some of your earnings and enroll in a class at a local JC or buy a few books on the American labor movement. Only then I think you can truly appreciate what you have today was brought forward by hard working and mostly unskilled workers (mostly immigrants of their time I might add) in days past who literally put their life so that you today may enjoy your union membership.

Happy Thanksgiving Anon, I am sure you will be able to enjoy that day with your family, unlike those slothy Walmart employees who will be toiling away when they would rather be with family or friends!

Anonymous said...

Walmart has delivered what the market demanded... Lower prices. It is the consumer's want of cheap deals that has driven the growth of Walmart. And sadly enough, those same customers hungry for lower prices helped drive manufacturing jobs overseas. The consumer is realizing the lower prices but finding the cost much higher than they expected. Blame corporate greed all you'd like but it is the consumer that bought in and the investors that benefit (Got a 401K? you're likely an investor!). Welcome to Walmart...

Capt. Benajim L. Willard said...

No doubt, there is plenty of blame to go around. Consumer who buy their chocolate cover graham crackers at Walmart for $1.29 instead of Raley's where they wold spend a dollar more are part of the equation.

Nonetheless, the shear purchasing strength Walmart has gives it an advantage over other regional grocers like Raley's or Kroger's that even if they increased wages by say 5% they would still be at a competitive advantage. Aside from some of these price points, many other retailers are price competitive. It may take a little thought, but consumer are just as likely to find the price they want at one of the smaller retailers.

I guess S. Robson Walton and family just can't get by without that extra billion or so a year.

As for IRA'ss 401k's, pension funds, etc., you are right - we all likely have some blood on our hands. If you recall one of the things that helped end apartheid in South Africa was the economic pressure brought on by large public pension funds. Maybe Walmart can be brought down a notch or two by public pension funds withholding investment dollars. Just a thought.

Anonymous said...

@Capt. Benajim L. Willard...
We're not far apart on the issue but an important point to highlight is that an increase of wages would decrease the margin... which is not what investors are looking for.
As for large public pension funds - maybe... I just don't see public pension funds sticking their neck out to do that. We're on a race to the bottom - maybe we have to get there before we can turn the tide.

Silent Dogood said...

When this argument of having to pay Walmart workers comes up I always wonder why the people that supposedly are supporting the Walmart workers inadvertantly degrade them.

How you ask? Don't you think that if these workers could get a job paying more with better benifits they would? Or with our current economic harships and high unemplolyment maybe they are just happy to have a job unlike the 8.7% in California that file for unemployment, not even taking into consideration the people that have just stopped looking for work.

What I am saying is that if I am qualified to make more money and there was a job out there paying more I would take it. However, a job is a job and most of the Walmart employees are paid what their qualifications demand.

Anonymous said...

First off not sure if you have been around a lot of rank in file Union members, but a overwhelming majority actually distrust Union Management and wish our dues did not go to Political Kickbacks. Union Management had nothing to do with my success if it was up to me I would vote to be out of the Union as my dues are not spent well between the Fraud and Lavish lifestyles by Senior Management.

I and I alone mastered my craft my hard work and desire for success made me who I am not my Union. My Craft dictates that I have to be in a Union it isn't by choice I am in a Union. Again my Hard work and personal responsibility is why I make the money I make today. And please don't give me my Union Forefathers fought for what I have today. The Free market is what determines pay this isn't shady 1920/1930's where employers take advantage, with the California labor laws they have on the books it makes unions obsolete.

Back to my point no Entry level positions should not be making $15 an hour that is the same as a entry level social worker. Tell me who deserves $15 an hour a Wal Mart stocker or a Social Worker???? And I already see your rebuttal pay the social worker more, but what you and most Quasi Socialist don't understand is that with increase wages comes increase cost, and the avg American can not afford the increase which is why places like Target, Wal-Mart and on a smaller scale Grocery Outlet, Winco are so vital to the avg American. It isn't you or other Limo riding Liberals to dictate what pay should be hard work, personal responsibility and the free market to determine what is a fair living age is.

Capt. Benjamin L. Willard said...

First off Anon, if you wish to engage in meaningful a debate, lets not get into throwing around silly labels more appropriately used on talk radio or Elk Grove Online shall we. I'll happily engage, but not when it is reduced to using an argument filled with cliches.

Let me ask you a simple question; Does your employer or union health plan provide dental benefits?

Anonymous said...

Yes they do, but that is point they have to offer benefits to attract high quality employees, if they didn't another company would step up their offer to steal away employees. That is the point of capitalism and the free market

Capt. Benjamin L. Willard said...

Those benefits were first awarded to the largely unskilled members of the UAW in the early 70's. If not for the unskilled workers and the union leadership of Leonard Woodcock, the free teeth cleaning and braces you get for your kids today would cost your plenty. Yes, most of the workers at all those assembly and stamping plants were unskilled - many who immigrated from the South to the Midwest for a better life for their families. They were the Walmart workers of their day. The difference is that they were paid fairly and given benefits for an otherwise tedious jobs, not unlike today's Walmart workers.

Anonymous said...

Again you harken back to the pass. In today's ultra competitive market it isn't business as usually and to compare sitting in a Wal Mart stocking boxes to working in a coal mine, steel mill etc etc is laughable and shows you must be tied into Union Management to believe that, this is a ploy to get more members to deepen the pockets of Management. With all of the labor laws in California (Not Texas) there are thousands to protect the employees of California.

If I had my choice there would be no more force union dues, if the unions are so much better why are people fleeing from them? Answer me this Capt. Are you willing to let people opt'ed out of there union fees within each company? My guess would be no because members like me an my brothers would dump the unions as fast as we could especially if we didn't have our dues pulled from our checks? Look forward to your response

Capt. Benjamin L. Willard said...

Anon, you do have a choice. You and your other dissatisfied union brethren can decertify your union. For your convenience here is the link so you and your co-workers can free yourself from the yoke of your overpaid union bosses.


My guess is that you won't do it as because
a.) your and your co-workers lack the intestinal fortitude to do it, and,
b.) You talk big, but when it comes down to it, your realize it means you will take a pay cut. Don't ever think you and your skills are indispensable and not easily replaced.

Looking forward to your report back on how you plan to get out of the union.

Anonymous said...

You didn't answer my questions? Oh and I thought you said no name calling?

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