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Wages, not welfare

Counting the Cost

Julianne Malveaux | 11/27/2013, midnight

A household headed by two part-time Walmart workers qualifies for a number of federal programs. If Walmart paid each of its workers $12.50 an hour, the pay increase would not substantially reduce profit. Indeed, the profit stream might increase if employers are more productive, less likely to seek new jobs, and more likely to claim pride in their work.

The National Labor Relations Board just announced that it would prosecute Walmart for its illegal treatment–firing or disciplining–117 striking workers. Many of these actions were stemmed from last year’s “Black Friday” when some workers did not want to work Thanksgiving day or the day after, and others used the occasion to educate the public about their low pay levels. This year Walmart will open at 6 a.m, two hours earlier than last year.

Your dinner will hardly be digested before you head to the store! So while Walmart is concerned about some workers having a good Thanksgiving dinner, they are hardly concerned about when they will have the opportunity to enjoy it, unless they opt for the Thanksgiving dinner Walmart will offer to its “associates” who are forced to work on Thanksgiving.

Enough, Walmart! Pay the people fairly. Pay them wages not giveaways. Stop threatening organizers. Have respect for your workers. Live up to the publicity that you keep churning out. Indeed, divide the publicity budget among your workers who will sing your praises when they are paid a living wage!

Julianne Malveaux is a D.C.-based economist and writer and president emerita of Bennett College for Women.

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