Walmart announced, once the Republican tax pill passed, that it would increase the minimum wage for its workers to $11, give a $1000 bonus to some associates considered eligible, and grant other benefits to about 1 million workers. All of this was allegedly made possible by the tax cut.
Washington. 31st. May, 2018: However, if Walmart had decided to prioritize basic necessities instead of paying $20 billion to its shareholders in the coming two years, it could have achieved a lot more to pay its workers decently. Indeed, the plan consisting in paying $20 billion to shareholders, through buybacks, was adopted before the tax cut bill was passed, which certainly means that Walmart does not lack the money to help its workers get a decent life.
If Walmart was willing to spend this money on its employees, it could guarantee a base wage of $15.66 per hour instead of the $11 it is currently paying, according to the Roosevelt Institute (think tank). Another possible way to spend this money on workers would be by buying them stock and making them shareholders.
OUR Walmart, which is an association of Walmart workers, came forward with several proposals on Wednesday. Among these proposals was a suggestion to organize a vote among shareholders to put equal amounts of money into the associate stock program and the shareholder buyback program.Walmart responded that it would recommend shareholders not to vote in favor of this (Securities and exchange commission filing).
Two other proposals initiated by OUR Walmart dealt with the requirement to make Walmart’s chair independent from the board of directors and the need to highlight racial and ethnic wage differences in a report. Needless to say that both these proposals failed, too, during Wednesday’s vote.
Numerous companies prefer spending money on shareholders rather than improving the conditions of their workers or, at least, making their conditions decent. Even after increasing the basic wage to $11 per hour, the situation remains critical. In fact, working 34 hours per week means earning $19,000 a year, which is still below the poverty line for a family of three. Walmart made additional efforts by introducing a paid family leave plan this year, but at the same time, it counter-balanced these efforts by pressurizing workers to not unionize.
Moreover, the increase in the basic wage is beneficial for new workers mainly, as Walmart did not proportionally increase wages for all the older employees who have been working for several years and who now earn more than $11 per hour because of their seniority. So, if Walmart increases the basic wage only for certain people, the problem is like to be aggravated rather than solved.
Some workers shared that Walmart reduced their weekly hours of work after increasing their wage, which, in the end, put the employees in new problems, as their wage technically did not increase at all.
What makes this whole situation curious and disappointing is that Walmart, once upon a time, used to share its profits with its employees, grant them the possibility to buy Walmart stock at reduced prices, and contribute to their pension plan, etc.