May Day Protests: 4 Reasons to Hold Walmart Accountable Today

April 24 marked the United Food and Commercial Workers Union's Walmart Day of Action to hold the conglomerate accountable for its poor treatment of workers.Now, as workers worldwide celebrate and protest on May Day, it's time to keep the pressure on.

Let's look at some reasons to keep close tabs on Walmart:

1. They're fighting to keep the minimum wage low:


Image credit: OURWalmart

In New York, Governor Cuomo recently passed a bill set to increase the minimum wage from $7.25 to $9.00 over the course of the next three years. The bill was subject to support from Democratic Senate candidates and bitter opposition from Republicans. Naturally, Walmart poured money into Republican Senate and Assembly member campaigns when the outcome of the bill remained undetermined over $105,000 over the past two years.

Republican lawmakers managed to slip a provision into the bill guaranteeing massive tax credits to employers who hire seasonal workers ages 16 through 19 (provided these workers are enrolled in school). The provision puts no cap on the subsidy, which is estimated at about $20-$40 million per year, is taxpayer-paid, and is expected to mainly benefit huge box stores like Walmart.

2. They pay employees sub-poverty wages and expect employees to go on public assistance:


Image credit: OURWalmart

Politifact confirmed Alan Grayson’s claim that Walmart employees are the largest group of Medicaid recipients in the country, and likely are forced to resort to food stamps as well. In fact, there have been numerous reports of food stamps and Medicaid applications being available in Walmart break rooms and included in Walmart orientation materials. It's not just a consequence of their low wages, apparently, but a basic component of their business model.

3. They're even more sexist than most massive corporations:


Image Credit: Brave New Films

Women tend to outnumber men in retail service jobs, so it’s not surprising that women make up 65% of Wal-Mart’s hourly paid employees. However, only 33% of its management is women compared with an industry norm of 57% at comparable retail companies. Even controlling for seniority, store location, and full-time vs. part-time status, female Walmart employees make between 5% and 15% less than male employees for working in the same position.

4. They aren't honoring their commitment to greater transparency about scheduling:


Image Credit: My San Antonio

This is a huge deal for an hourly paid employee many work multiple jobs and need to adjust their availability, many need to schedule childcare, and many are full-time workers and full-time students. Knowing your work schedule well enough in advance to balance the rest of your responsibilities is a basic dignity that should be afforded to workers. Denying workers this right is a classic tactic to keep them controlled and powerless.

To read more about the UFCW’s campaign against Walmart’s unjust policies or to make a donation, visit their website.

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Hannah Brown

Hannah Brown is a fourth-year Sociology/Gender Studies student at New College of Florida. Her interests include gender, sexuality, and labor issues. In her spare time, she sings and acts.

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