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Walmart Buys Back $20 Billion In Company Stock Instead Of Raising Wages

Walmart announced a $20 Billion stock buyback yesterday.

From Business Insider: Walmart is using the oldest trick in the book to boost its stock price

$20 Billion is a whole lot of money.

  • It’s equal to almost $8,700 per full-time Walmart employee.[i]
  • It’s more than three times what taxpayers spend each year on health care, food stamps and other forms of public assistance for Walmart employees.[ii]
  • It’s 50% more than Walmart’s total profits last year.[iii]
  • It’s equal to about half of the company’s total long-term debt.[iv]

And Walmart directors have decided to spend all that money buying back shares of their own corporation’s stock.  Which doesn’t really do anything other than condense corporate ownership.

2005 photo of the Rev. Billy Talen leading the “Stop Shopping Choir”
by J.L. Sousa/Times-Herald Creative Commons license via Flickr

So rather than paying better wages to employees, or allowing more employees access to the company’s health insurance, or hiring more employees, or even just paying off corporate debt… Walmart directors want to spend $20 billion on reducing the number of shares of stock.

It’s all a question of priorities.  And condensing corporate ownership has been one of Walmart’s priorities for at least a decade.  Walmart has “repurchased” almost 30% of its shares since 2005.[v]

While taxpayers have been paying billions of dollars each year in public assistance to Walmart employees.

While Walmart employees have had to ask for public assistance, just to make ends meet for their families.

As the “Fight for Fifteen” movement[vi] continues, it’s worth asking:

If Walmart can afford $20 billion for more stock buybacks, why isn’t it already paying better wages to employees?

————

[i] https://finance.yahoo.com/quote/WMT/profile?p=WMT
[ii] https://www.forbes.com/sites/clareoconnor/2014/04/15/report-walmart-workers-cost-taxpayers-6-2-billion-in-public-assistance/
[iii] “net income” https://finance.yahoo.com/quote/WMT/financials?p=WMT
[iv] https://finance.yahoo.com/quote/WMT/balance-sheet?p=WMT
[v] http://www.macrotrends.net/stocks/charts/WMT/shares-outstanding/wal-mart-stores-shares-outstanding-history
[vi] http://fortune.com/2016/06/11/walmart-minimum-wage-study/

#WomensWorkersRising Coalition Issues Call for Stories of Women Workers in Solidarity with International Workers Day

Coalition Strengthens Call to End Workplace Violence, Pay Inequality, Unfair Labor practices and paid leave policies, and for a livable wage for all through stories of women from around the country

Washington, DC — In solidarity with International Workers’ Day, #WomensWorkersRising is sending out a call to women workers to share their own personal stories of not only violence, pay inequity and unfair labor practices but also victory, celebration and joy — to continue the momentum created by hundreds of thousands of workers who took to the streets and marched across the country on May 1st. The coalition is calling for broad-based solidarity with women workers who are fighting for an end to workplace violence and harassment and to promote pay equity, one fair living wage, paid leave, and labor rights at work  Already the coalition has collected stories from women across the country as we continue to create a living archive of the voices of women workers.

These stories include a women from OUR Walmart who had to leave her special needs son with a friend for fear of losing her a job and an employee at Comcast who lost her benefits after taking a leave to take care of her child who suffered a stroke.

The hallmark of the #WomensWorkersRising rally in Washington D.C. on International Women’s Day demonstrated a collective energy, solidarity, and interconnectivity in the face of massive deregulations, continued rampant abuse, deportations, economic hardship and cutbacks to services and programs. That spirit is urgently needed to push forward a platform for and by women workers, and by collecting these stories, #WomenWorkersRising is broadening the scope of their undertaking – remaining vigilant in lifting up women workers across the wider resistance narrative and continuing to build their alliance by showing up for one another in actions online and in the streets.

“Sexual harassment and violence against women workers, including trans women and gender nonconforming individuals, takes place every day at workplaces across the country, in every occupation and industry. From restaurant workers, teachers, retail workers, domestic workers, and at-home mothers to nurses, farmworkers, factory workers, workers with disabilities, federal workers, actors, office workers, company executives, and more, workplace violence is part of making a living for many women. In many cases, women don’t or can’t speak out or seek justice for fear of losing their jobs. All of this is happening in a global economic reality where it is increasingly difficult for women to earn a livable wage” states the Women Workers Rising Coalition.

In her story, which is already featured on the site, Regina Mays of OUR Walmart states,“We shouldn’t have to choose between our jobs and our families. We need paid leave and sick time. I want to let my voice be heard so people know what is happening at Walmart. What gives me hope: I know with time and effort it can be changed. Even if it isn’t for me – it will change for others so they aren’t making choices between families and job. That is the worst feeling in the world,”

#WomenWorkersRising coalition includes: One Billion Rising in Coalition with Restaurant Opportunities Centers United, the African American Policy Forum, American Federation of Teachers, Family Values @ Work, International Labor Rights Forum, Jobs with Justice, National Nurses United, National Domestic Workers Alliance, National Organization for Women, OUR Walmart, Good Jobs Nation (List in formation).

For more information please go to: http://www.womenworkersrising.org/workers-stories/

Black Friday Protests Kick Off In Dozens Of Cities

Dozens of Black Friday Actions Take Place Outside Walmart Stores Nationwide OUR Walmart and Allies United in Call for $15/hour And Full-Time

Comes On The Heels Of A More Than Two Week Fast
By 1,400 Calling Out The Giant Retailer for the Hunger Crisis at Walmart

Black Friday Protests (Image by Mary Clinton Twitter)

Black Friday Protests (Image by Mary Clinton Twitter)

Friday, November 27, 2015 — Today, in cities across the county, Walmart workers and dozens of allied groups are joining together in a united call for “$15 and full-time” for the millions of hardworking associates who are struggling to put food on the table this holiday season on Walmart’s poverty pay and inconsistent hours. Today’s actions, outside a dozen Walmart stores across the nation, comes on the heels of a more than two-week fast by 1,400 people, including hundreds of Walmart workers, many of whom are working this holiday season, including Jasmine Dixon, a mother of two in Denver Colorado and Lisa Pietro, a grandmother in Winter Haven, Florida. This is the fourth year of Black Friday actions by OUR Walmart and the biggest coalition yet – with more than twenty-two different organizations partnering in the actions.

OUR Walmart Black Friday actions are taking place at hundreds of stores across the country today including large crowds expected in: New York City, Tampa, Washington, DC, Miami, Chicago, Minneapolis, Los Angeles, Oakland, Sacramento, Seattle, Portland and Detroit.  More than 200,000 have signed petitions calling on Walmart to change. You can follow along using the hashtag #Fastfor15 and learn more at: http://protests.blackfriday.

Their message is clear: while Walmart employees can barely put food on the table this Thanksgiving, Walmart continues to thrive as the largest supplier of groceries in the nation and line the pockets of the Walton family with corporate greed. Anything less than $15 and full-time is not enough for Walmart workers.

“This Black Friday, Walmart will not be able to ignore their employees who sacrifice time with their families—even on Thanksgiving, like me—to earn a paycheck that won’t even cover basic groceries,” said Pat Scott, a Walmart employee in Washington. “We’ve been fasting for $15 an hour and full-time work outside of stores and Walton estates across the country—they know we’re going hungry, that my co-workers and I skip meals and pick up our dinners at food banks on our way home. The question is whether Walmart will use any of last year’s $16 billion in profits to do anything about it.

“This Thanksgiving, I worked at Walmart for the third year in a row because I worry about becoming homeless again like I was when Walmart forced me to taken an early, unpaid maternity leave,” said Jasmine Dixon, a Walmart employee in Colorado. “But I deserve more than such a low wage that my family and I still have to rely on food stamps and donations. Walmart needs to learn to respect us as people who work hard every day and stop taking advantage of us.”

This week, OUR Walmart released company testimony to the public for the first time revealing Walmart’s surveillance of their workers fighting for $15 an hour and full-time work in the wake of Black Friday strikes in 2012 and the “Ride for Respect” in 2013. In addition to closely monitoring the lawful labor rights activism of its associates on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, as the company faced a wave of bad publicity and negative same store sales, Walmart enlisted military industrial giant Lockheed Martin to spy on its workers and the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force to gather intelligence on protests.  

In response to these acts by Walmart, OUR Walmart is launching a campaign focused on key members of the congress whose responsibility it is to oversee the FBI and its activities.  You can see the campaign here – https://actionnetwork.org/petitions/help-us-ensure-that-walmart-stops-collaborating-with-the-fbi-terrorism-taskforce.

Quick Facts:

●     The Walton heirs own half of Walmart, which raked in $16 billion in profits over the last year. Their wealth has been greater than the bottom 42 percent of all American families combined.

●     More Americans buy their groceries at Walmart than anywhere else — capturing about 25% of the grocery market in the U.S., and up from around 7% in 2002, yet workers can’t even afford to shop there.

●     Walmart is the largest company by revenue in the US — and their US retail sales exceed those of Kroger, Target and Costco combined.

●     37 million people shop at Walmart every day — that’s more than the entire population of Canada.

Statement By AFL-CIO Pres. Trumka On OUR Walmart Black Friday Protests

www.BlackFridayProtests.org

As the Walton family indulges in their own Thanksgiving meal, many Walmart workers who help keep them rich can’t afford food for their families. On Black Friday, the entire labor movement will proudly stand with the brave workers at Walmart as they lead the largest mobilization to date for better wages and schedules. Their courage is inspiring and powerful in the fight for all workers.

The low-down, low-cost, low-wage, low-road Walmart model is wrecking America, causing real pain for workers, and it’s wrong. In an economy where too many people who work still can’t make ends meet, it’s the economic and moral responsibility of businesses to step up. Walmart can continue its dangerous business model or it can lead the way to family-sustaining jobs.

The Walton family is worth $150 billion, but that isn’t enough to silence working people or keep us from fighting for what’s right. Local labor movements across the country join with community groups and allies to amplify Walmart workers’ call for the company to publicly commit to $15 an hour and full-time, consistent hours. There comes a time when we’ve got to stand for justice, for good pay, for good jobs, for our future, for our families and for each other. And that time is now, so all Americans can have a Happy Thanksgiving.

My Question To The Walton Family: How Much Is Enough?

 

How much money is enough? Do you stop being a greedy capitalist when you no longer care what anything costs? Do you stop when you become one of the named people on the “Richest People In America” lists?  Do you stop when your company make $8.5 million dollars a day in dividends alone? Some people would say, “Never! I will never stop until I own everything!”

This is exactly the case of the Walton Family.  Sam Walton built an empire in Walmart by keeping costs down and providing people with everything they needed in one store.  Somewhere along the way, Sam’s Walmart became WALMART (dun-dun-dah), the monstrous corporation with over one million employees that drives the entire retail industry.  They force other retail shops to compete with their unscrupulous tactics like forcing employees to work on Thanksgiving, paying workers the absolute minimum, and making the majority of employees part-time to avoid having to offer any type of health benefits (forget about retirement – good luck funding that 401k on $7.25 an hour).

The Walton’s still own Walmart and they could be doing so much more for their workers, their communities and their country.  They could pay every worker $15 an hour without having raise any prices or lose out on any profits.  Yet they refuse to pay workers a living wage. In fact the Walmart corporation is one of the biggest opponents to raising the minimum wage.

Lets not forget that we as American taxpayers are subsidizing these low wages with our tax dollars.  Research from the Economic Policy Institute shows that the government spends more than $13 billion dollars a year subsidizing the retail industry’s low wages.  With a poverty rate of low-wage workers pushing over 10%, it is no wonder Walmart does food drives for their own employees.

So again I will ask how much money is enough? 

_________________________

The UFCW and Robert Reich teamed up to make this great video (http://youtu.be/_-SMetMkcVI) explaining how Walmart could give millions of Americans a raise right now, if they chose to.

Please watch this video and support a Black Friday Protest near you, visit BlackFridayProtest.org

Why We Organize: The Fight For $15

For RespectEvery workers deserves respect.  

We work hard, and only ask to be paid fairly.  For many low-wage workers, work is more like slavery. They work hours on end, making scraps and living in poverty.  For hundreds of thousands of workers in the greater Los Angeles area, living on California’s (higher than average) minimum wage is just not enough to survive.  Workers in LA have come together with local union organizers to Fight for $15.

They are asking for Mayor Garcetti to help improve the lives of hundreds of thousands of workers in the greater LA area.

Workers all across LA are fighting to build a better future for our families. The truck drivers that deliver the clothes on our backs, the fast food workers who serve us our food on the go, warehouse and retail workers that help fill our holidays with cheer, and the car wash workers who keep LA’s beloved automobiles shiny… We are the backbone of our economy and we have joined together to fight for our rights!

We will not back down until there is change!

Mayor Garcetti, support our fight to improve the lives of the hundreds of thousands of workers that keep the city running.

Sign the petition 

Look at the faces of the people who are organizing in the Fight for $15 in LA.  They are not children, they are everyday Americans, just like you and me.  They are hard workers.  They have families of their own.  They just want to be paid a living wage.

FIGHT FOR $15!

Watch the video on YouTube 

Non-Union Working Women Face Greater Challenges on the Job

In advance of the White House Summit on Working Families, the labor movement and worker groups are spending this week highlighting the stories of real working families and the challenges they face.

Today we’ll take a look at working women and moms in the workplace with the story from Bene’t Holmes.  Bene’t is a 25-year-old single mother who works at Walmart in Chicago and struggles to survive on low wages.  In February she suffered a miscarriage while at work, after a manager denied her request for job duties that were less physically demanding.  Following her miscarriage, she asked for a leave of absence to recover and was denied that request as well.  Read how Bene’t realized she needed a voice on the job and took action with the OUR Walmart campaign.

A quote from Bene’t’s story

“….Besides feeling betrayed by Walmart I questioned how a company that champions family could be so cold and heartless when one of its own employees is dealing with a tragedy.

I had to act—no woman should ever be put in that position again. I used my story to speak out and empower other women….”

On the policy front, the Center for Economic Policy and Research is out with a new study on women, working families and unions.  The study concludes that “firms with a union presence were 22 percent more likely to allow workers to take parental leave for a new child, 16 percent more likely to allow workers to take medical leave for their own illness, 12 percent more likely to allow workers to take medical leave for pregnancy, and 19 percent more likely to allow workers to take medical leave to care for a family member.”  View the full study here

Follow the conversation on social media at #WFSpeakUp and #WorkingFamilies.  Or visit the AFL-CIO blog for more stories from working families. http://www.aflcio.org/Blog

AFL-CIO Wraps up Week of Activity in Support of Walmart Workers

Image via WikiCommon

Image via WikiCommon

Working Families Take to the Streets Leading up to Walmart’s Shareholders Meeting

Washington, DC – This week working families and Walmart moms across the country hit the streets to protest Walmart’s egregious workplace policies.  And this afternoon Walmart moms are rallying outside of the Walmart Supercenter in Washington, D.C., in protest of the company’s illegal firings and disciplinary action against co-workers who have struck to end illegal retaliation and spoken out for better jobs for their families.

On Monday AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka called on people to stand with Walmart moms going on strike: http://www.aflcio.org/Blog/Corporate-Greed/Why-We-Should-All-Support-the-Moms-on-Strike-Against-Walmart

On Wednesday the AFL-CIO named Rob Walton, Chairman of Walmart the “Low Wage Villain of the Week”: http://www.aflcio.org/Blog/Corporate-Greed/Low-Wage-Villain-of-the-Week-Rob-Walton

On Thursday AFL-CIO Secretary Treasurer Liz Shuler penned an open letter to working women in support of Walmart moms: http://www.aflcio.org/Blog/Corporate-Greed/Walmart-Moms-Their-Fight-Is-Our-Fight

Today AFL-CIO Executive Vice President Tefere Gebre will join Walmart moms in Washington, DC to call on new Walmart CEO, Doug McMillon, to publicly commit to take the company in a new direction.

The strike follows a series of events in Phoenix, Ariz., where Walmart moms tried todiscuss their concerns of low pay directly with board chairman Rob Walton in his neighborhood.

Worker shareholders who are OUR Walmart members —including many striking moms—are set to attend the company’s annual shareholder meeting on Friday, June 6 in Bentonville, Ark., to take their concerns directly to shareholders.

The annual shareholders meeting will begin as Walmart workers—part of the three-year old national organization OUR Walmart—make significant strides in changing policies of the country’s largest employer. Recently, Walmart upgraded its pregnancy policy after OUR Walmart memberswho are also shareholders submitted a resolution to the company about its discriminatory pregnancy policy. And,responding to OUR Walmart members’ growing calls on the retailer to improve access to hours, Walmart rolled out a new system nationwidethat allows workers to sign up for open shifts in their stores online.

Activist Protest Walmart on Black Friday For Better Wages (Somersworth, NH)

OSCNH-2A

On Friday November 29th millions of Americans went out well before dawn to try to save a few dollars on that hot new toy.  The annual event now known as ‘Black Friday,’ is the biggest annual revenue draw for retailers.  However not everyone who was out on Black Friday was out to shop.

Millions of low wage retail workers were forced to give up their holiday celebrations to go into work Thanksgiving night and work straight through the Black Friday madness.

Walmart the nations largest private employer has been leading the race to the bottom by paying most of the their workers just above minimum wage.  Walmart also does not guarantee that employees will get a full 40-hour workweek either.  These actions by Walmart’s corporate executives have fueled the union organizing efforts of OUR-Walmart.

Organization United for Respect (OUR-Walmart) is a grassroots coalition of workers and union organizers who are trying to help workers find their voice and speak out against their employer.  OUR-Walmart made national news on Black Friday last year when they held their first worker’s strikes.  The turn out was not as big as they hoped for but they made their point.

This year OUR-Walmart’s Black Friday protests were much bigger.  Thousands of protests were held nation wide.  Some were massive like the ones in White Plains New York where hundreds of people gathered to protest.  Others were small like the one in Somersworth New Hampshire where about twenty protesters showed up at the Walmart Supercenter.

OSCNH-1

Image courtesy of Occupy Seacoast NH

In a recent interview, David Holt, a member of Occupy Seacoast NH, which organized the Somersworth protest, told me:

We came out to support Walmart workers who are not paid a living wage. We were also protesting Walmart as the poster child for corporate America, driving for profits for the wealthy in America despite the damage it is doing to hardworking Americans, the economy, and the planet.” 

While the group was small they were very diverse. “Attendees included members of the Occupy Seacoast NH group, UNH students who are part of the UNH Peace and Justice League, members of various unions, as well as several concerned citizens,” Holt explained.

David is not a Walmart employee, so I asked David why he chose to take part protesting Walmart?

“Just look at the news,” Holt said. “One Walmart store had a food drive for it’s own employees, they are also currently under investigation for bribery in Mexico, and have been tied in the past to a factory catastrophe in Bangladesh. The list of reasons to protest Walmart is almost limitless, they have caused countless small business to close including smaller chains and their sourcing practices are causing environmental damage all over the world.”

Workers deserve dignity and respect no matter where they work.  Walmart does not respect their workers.  They pay them the absolute minimum, provide no benefits, and do their best to avoid allowing workers to be ‘full time’.    I was very glad to see all of the news coverage and people who took a stand for workers on Black Friday, instead of feeding the corporate greed.

Concord Activists Join “Black Friday” Walmart Protests (InZane Times)

concord112913010_thumbSix hardy activists held signs outside the Concord NH Walmart store this morning in solidarity with workers calling for higher pay and more respectful working conditions.  The “Black Friday” protest was one of many across the country intended to put pressure on the nation’s largest employer and the world’s largest retailer, which has built a business model on the lousy labor standards faced by its workers and those who produce the products it sells.

According to Making Change at Walmart, most of the company’s workers earn less than $25,000 a year.  Wages are so low that 42% of the company’s Massachusetts workers are eligible for subsidized health insurance, according to figures generated by the state’s Center for Health Information and Analysis.

concord112913004The Black Friday protests were coordinated by Making Change at Walmart,  a campaign challenging Walmart to help rebuild our economy and strengthen working families. Anchored by the United Food & Commercial Workers (UFCW), it unites  Walmart employees, union members, small business owners, religious leaders, community organizations, women’s advocacy groups, multi-ethnic coalitions, elected officials and ordinary citizens who believe that changing Walmart is a vital priority for the economic health of our communities.  Making Change works closely with OUR Walmart, an organization of employees, many of whom have taken risky actions to  insist on a more respectful work environment.

It’s a busy season for “Days of Action.”  One focused on preserving Social Security will be held next Tuesday.  Another, focused on solidarity with fast food workers, will be held Thursday, December 5.   In addition to supporting the efforts of workers at low-wage retail chains and fast food restaurants, the actions can also boost support for legislation to raise the minimum wage at the national and state levels.

In New Hampshire, where the legislature abolished the state’s minimum wage in 2011, a bill to raise the wage for the state’s lowest workers in two steps to $9 an hour will be introduced in January.

Walmart can afford to raise wages.  Citing sources such as the annual Forbes 400 list of the richest Americans, the web site “The Walmart 1%” says the six wealthiest Waltons, the heirs to Walmart founder Sam Walton, have a net worth of $144.7 billion and that the family has as much wealth as 42% of the American population added together.

(Originally posted on InZane Times by Arnie Alpert)

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