Can Right and Left Rally Against Walmart?

November 26, 2013 | | Huffington Post |

One of the most profitable corporations in America is having a holiday food drive. Sounds good -- it's the least Corporate America can do for those struggling to make ends meet while big companies rake in record profits and give so little back. But wait... there's a catch. The food drive is for the company's own underpaid, poverty-stricken workers. You really can't make this stuff up.

Last week, it was reported that a Walmart store in Canton, Ohio is asking for food donations for its own employees. Photos of the food donation bins circulated online showing signs that read: "Please donate food items here so associates in need can enjoy Thanksgiving dinner." (That's if they even have a chance to -- Walmart stores are open on Thanksgiving and are beginning their "Black Friday" deals at 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day to get a jump on the holiday shopping madness.)

Walmart is America's largest employer with a workforce consisting of 1.3 million "associates." The company made nearly $17 billion in profit last year. So why can't Walmart afford to pay its own store workers enough for them to enjoy a holiday meal with their families? The answer is Walmart doesn't really care about its workers. [...]

Over the past five years, Walmart has had enough excess funds to buy back billions in its own stock. Walmart reportedly spent $7.6 billion last year buying back its shares. These funds are enough to raise the salaries of the lowest paid workers by $5.83 an hour. Catherine Ruetschlin, policy analyst at Demos, stated in a recent release: "These share repurchases benefit an increasingly narrow group of people, including the six Walton family heirs. But buybacks do not improve the fundamentals of the firm. If the funds were used to raise the pay of Walmart's 825,000 low paid workers, it would not harm the retailer's competitive ability and would add no cost to the consumer."

Read the brief: A Higher Wage Is Possible