In the Sunday edition of USA Today, UFCW International Union President Joe Hansen had the opportunity to respond to an opinion piece, titled “Wal-Mart foes go one too far.” His response, titled “More villain than victim,” follows:
Wal-Mart is not the victim of globalization, lower wages and lack of health insurance. More accurately, Wal-Mart’s business practices created many of these problems in America today. Look at the record.
A company that reflects America’s values doesn’t pay below poverty-level wages to its workers. At 34 hours per week (full-time at Wal-Mart), the average Wal-Mart associate makes $17,114 per year, well below the poverty level for a family of four.
A company that reflects America’s values doesn’t have 660,000 of its employees without company-provided health insurance, forcing workers to seek taxpayer-funded public assistance. In fact, in 11 of the 12 states that have disclosed employers who have employees on Medicaid, Wal-Mart tops the list. In Georgia, for example, a state survey found more than 10,000 Wal-Mart employees on Medicaid — 14 times the next highest employer.
A company that reflects America’s values doesn’t ask taxpayers to subsidize its $10 billion in profits. A U.S. congressional study found that Wal-Mart costs you, the American taxpayer, up to $2.5 billion in public assistance. One newspaper editorial titled it, “Wal-Mart Welfare.”
A company that reflects America’s values doesn’t put profits before its people, morality and the law. In the past few months, Wal-Mart agreed to pay a record fine for exploiting illegal immigrants and settled extensive child labor violations. It still faces the largest gender discrimination lawsuit, 1.6 million women, in U.S. history for unfair pay and unequal promotion.
Wal-Mart is not creating jobs in our communities. Wal-Mart’s business practices simply exchange decent jobs with health benefits for lower-paying jobs and taxpayer-subsidized health care. The truth is Wal-Mart is forcing good-paying American jobs overseas. Wal-Mart is creating an America of lower wages, no health care and lack of retirement security.
We think it’s time for Wal-Mart to wake up.
For more on this and other Wal-Mart stories, please visit the Wake-Up Blog.