I have an office in a building near I-70 and Harlan Street in northwest Denver, close to where a new family will soon be moving.
The new family’s building is under construction just southwest of my office. I don’t intend to rush over to welcome them to the neighborhood when they move in.
The Walmart family will be moving into the massive new big box building. I don’t like them, never have and never will. I’ve never set foot in a Walmart. They could sell television sets for a dollar, and I wouldn’t cross the street to buy one.
My new neighbor makes me wish there were such things as gated industrial areas. When it comes to Walmart, I am a NIMBY (Not in my Back Yard).
Walmart pays substandard wages. Average wage for so-called “associates” is $8.81 an hour, or about $15,500 a year for 34 hours of work each week, which is below the federal poverty line.
Moreover, the company doesn’t offer any substantial benefits, so employees rely on the federal and state governments for Medicaid, food stamps and cash assistance. Such assistance to Walmart workers is simply a government subsidy to a company that shortchanges its employees at the expense of the taxpayers.
Walmart employees are the most reliant of all private sector workers on welfare, according to studies done in California, Georgia and Massachusetts. And a recent Ohio survey indicates that public assistance to Walmart workers costs each taxpayer in that state an average of $943 a year.
It has been estimated that welfare to Walmart workers costs U.S. taxpayers more than $1 billion a year.
Between July 2005 and June 2011, Walmart settled an estimated 70 state and federal class action wage and hour lawsuits and lost one jury trial of a wage and hour case, involving more than a million current and former employees and costing the company over $1 billion. The lawsuits covered wage and hour violations that occurred between the late 1990s and 2010, including unpaid wages and lack of legally required breaks.
The company also has a long history of denying employees the right to organize and to engage in collective bargaining. The company is a master union buster, which uses numerous anti-union tactics, including requiring workers to attend anti-union meetings and specially training supervisors in union avoidance.
About five years ago I was riding my Harley-Davidson home to Denver from the famous annual ”Nut Run,” in Severance, Colorado, where bulls’ testicles are the menu of the day.
I was within four or five miles of an empty gasoline tank out on a country road in the boondocks. I told Chuck Connors, an old union pal who was riding alongside of me, to forge ahead to see if he could find any place to get gasoline. He was soon back and said there were gas pumps about two miles ahead.
They were at a big box Walmart.
No way, I told Chuck. I’ll walk the bike back to Denver.
I was lucky. A couple of miles past Walmart I cruised on fumes into a station and filled up.
That’s what I think of Walmart.
Geez, I hope I don’t see any of my friends or acquaintances walking into my new neighbor’s store.