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Walmart Moms Strike for Living Wages as Waltons Hoard Their Cash

Walmart Moms Strike for Living Wages as Waltons Hoard Their Cash

All they want is $25,000 a year, and to get it, they have been striking all across the country. The Walmart Moms, the so-called group of Walmart workers who are demanding fair wages in order to be able to raise their families, have now walked off the store floors in 20 different states, and their request is simple.

They want to earn enough to not have to rely on public assistance to survive.

“I have bills to pay, but I just don’t make enough money,” said Charmaine Givens-Thomas, 61, a Walmart worker on the Chicago’s North Side told Progress Illinois.†Although she earns $12.05 per hour, she has to use public assistance to supplement her income. “It’s devastating, sometimes I actually run out of food.”

This weekend will be the annual Walmart shareholder’s meeting, and the Walmart Moms are hoping that their strike might be enough to finally see some policy changes put in place. Walmart’s reliance on public assistance to cover the gaps in their low wage workers’ earnings have been notorious ever since the days of Barbara Ehrenreich’s book “Nickel and Dimed: On Not Getting By in America,” when she went under cover in a Minnesota Walmart as research on surviving on minimum wage work. Over a decade later, however, little has changed. Last year one store made headlines for having a food drive at Thanksgiving for its own employees, a reminder of how little many of them are asked to live on.

Women are even harder hit, thanks to lower wages and a longstanding tendency to turn them down for promotions or hire them as managers or executives. The issue became such a predominate part of the Walmart culture that†it turned into a mass gender discrimination suit.

While their employees are struggling to make ends meet, the owners themselves are doing just fine. As Clare O’Connor reports in Forbes, “The Walton family is America’s richest, worth some $140 billion between them and longtime fixtures of the Forbes 400 list thanks to their approximate 50% ownership of Walmart, the world’s largest retailer. Their Walton Family Foundation, established by the late Sam and Helen Walton in 1988, is considered a heavyweight in the world of nonprofits with just under $2 billion in assets.”

The two aren’t related, however, notes O’Connor, since for the most part the Waltons don’t give money to their own foundation. In fact, their charitable giving appears to be managed primarily as a way to grow their own wealth by avoiding taxes. “The [Walmart 1 percent] report goes on to detail how the Foundation has been funded over the years, namely by tax-avoiding trusts established with assets provided by the late Sam, Helen and John Walton or their estates. The study found that 99% of the Foundation’s contributions since 2008 have been channeled through 21 Charitable Lead Annuity Trusts. These CLATs, as they’re known, are specifically designed to help ultra-wealthy families avoid estate and gift taxes,” writes O’Connor.

It’s this hoarding of profits made by shortchanging their workers that the Walmart Moms hope to address, and a group of them are intending to be at the annual shareholder’s meeting in Bentonville, Ala., to do it. “The Walton heirs have led the company to a low point defined by the hardship they are creating for working families, the inexcusable lack of oversight of its supply chain and illegal bribery Ė all to increase their massive fortune, said Walmart mom and shareholder Charmaine Givens-Thomas in a statement. “Shareholders and associates want [new Walmart Chief Executive Officer] Mr. McMillon to lead our company back to a direction that Americans can be proud of.”

Just $25,000 a year. That doesn’t sound like much money, especially if you are raising a family. Yet for 825,000 Walmart workers – almost 2/3rds of their employees — $25,000 would be a massive change.

No wonder the mothers are striking.

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Photo credit: Thinkstock

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110 comments

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9:39AM PDT on Jun 16, 2014

How greedy, how grasping, how monstrously twisted by your own selfish wants must you be that $140billion IS NOT ENOUGH?! Is it just some game to see who has more than the next greedy bastard?

9:22AM PDT on Jun 16, 2014

The rich just keep getting richer... And still want more....

7:21PM PDT on Jun 12, 2014

ty. thanks for wonderful comments

1:35PM PDT on Jun 11, 2014

Wamart is one of the most horrible companies on this planet! There are so many alternatives out there to shop , so why do Americans keep getting duped into thinking that Walmart is so good. It's not!

2:11PM PDT on Jun 10, 2014

My husband and I shop at GoodWill and various resale stores. Lower prices, in many cases better quality (and name brands!), plus we have the satisfaction of knowing our shopping dollars are helping a worthy cause.

1:57PM PDT on Jun 10, 2014

Robert- nope, my wife and i are both on disability, between the two of us we make just over $22,000 a year, so yes i am saving

Original Message:
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Hello,

Robert left a comment on the following article:
Walmart Moms Strike for Living Wages as Waltons Hoard Their Cash
you are paying for it anyway Daryll!!! You are NOT saving any money PERIOD!

1:23PM PDT on Jun 10, 2014

you are paying for it anyway Daryll!!! You are NOT saving any money PERIOD!

11:01AM PDT on Jun 10, 2014

Barbara Gertz, who works as an overnight stocker at an Aurora, Colo., Wal-Mart, and has been lobbying for higher wages as part of the OUR Walmart labor organization, says Duke's exit package "is a slap in the face" to hourly paid workers.

"Many of us are forced to rely on taxpayer-supported programs just to cover our basic needs, and even then, we're still just scraping by,'' says Gertz, 46.

Duke's successor, C. Douglas McMillon, saw his compensation soar to $25.6 million from $9.5 million. The bulk of McMillon's gain came from a $23 million stock grant. Wal-Mart said the grant is tied to McMillon's promotion and payouts tied to three years of corporate performance metrics.

Wal-Mart shares gained about 7% during the last fiscal year, lagging the Standard & Poors 500 Index, which gained 32%. Under Duke's five-year watch, shares rose nearly 60%.

www.usatoday.com/story/money/business/2014/04/23/wal
www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/05/29/walmart-executive-pay... Cached

11:00AM PDT on Jun 10, 2014

Well said Brian, take a handful of green stars out of petty cash, my treat!

10:57AM PDT on Jun 10, 2014

The avarice, and selfishness, of companies like Wal-Mart that pay their workers low wages, forcing them into poverty, and food stamps, is reprehensible. Wal-Mart made record profits last year, and could easily afford to pay all their workers $25,000 a year, and only raise their prices $12,00 a year for the average shopper. The greed of the Wal-Mart CEO, is despicable. Departed Wal-Mart CEO Mike Duke's deferred pay should provide enough money to shop beyond discount retailers for many years. Duke, who retired Jan. 31, had $140.1 million in deferred compensation at year's end, Wal-Mart said Wednesday in its annual proxy filing. That's more than $27 million over what Duke had accumulated in retirement accounts in 2013, when governance experts noted that was more than 6,000 times greater than what the average Wal-Mart employee had stashed in 401K retirement accounts. Duke's fiscal 2014 compensation dropped more than 70% to $5.6 million from $20.7 million in the prior fiscal year, mostly due to the absence of a stock award. Duke gained another $17 million from vested shares and nearly $2.9 million exercising previously awarded stock options.

www.usatoday.com/story/money/business/2014/04/23/wal

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