Walmart Raises Wages; Still Getting Complaints

While Walmart raises wages, activists are getting ready to force the company to give employees more hours.


People have been using Walmart as a punching bag for years. They make all kinds of accusations against the company based on their success and the ready number of people who are willing to work for them. Somehow, the fact that they aren’t in a crisis finding employees counts as evidence that they are probably mistreating their employees. Their success in getting satisfied customers proves they are doing something unethical.

One major complaint has been that they don’t pay their employees “enough.” Of course, forcing Walmart to raise pay more than they can afford would require that customers pay more for the consumer goods that they sell. This would make Walmart less competitive with other businesses, especially with those that pay less.

Nevertheless, the company has done some calculations and decided it can raise wages for many employees. So it is doing so. They will make ten dollars an hour next year.

There are advantages to paying wages that are slightly above the prevailing amount that workers make. You then can be more selective and retain better employees. (Note: these benefits disappear if the general wage is raised by law for everyone. The amount of money by itself does not help a company. Only the amount above and beyond what the competition pays.) I hope Walmart has made its decision based on such benefits.

On the other hand, Walmart might have made the decision on the theory that people would stop complaining about them if they paid more. If so, this is a really stupid move. They will never satisfy their complainers and accusers.

Thus, the New York Times: “Next Goal for Walmart Workers: More Hours.”

For Anthony Rodriguez, every diaper for his 2-year-old son means less money to put food on the table, or to fill up his car at the gas station. His fiancée, Melinda Prothero, tries to make each diaper last longer, but there’s a limit to that, he says.

Mr. Rodriguez, 26, makes those trade-offs even though he already receives above-minimum wages at Walmart, and will make at least $10 an hour next year, part of a move by Walmart to raise wages for hundreds of thousands of workers.

“It’s not going to help us. We need the hours,” said Mr. Rodriguez, a member of the union-supported workers’ group, Our Walmart.

He says he constantly begs his managers for full-time work at the bustling Walmart superstore in Rosemead, Calif. He generally works around 28 hours a week, but can be assigned as few as 18.

“I work as hard as I can, and when they offer me hours, I stay,” he said. “But when the time comes, and I beg them for hours because I’m not going to afford rent, they don’t want to help me.

Why is that Walmart’s problem?

It is completely wrong and dishonest for Rodriguez to be complaining about Walmart. He should be complaining about the customers. They don’t come into the store enough and buy enough stuff consistently enough for the store to stay open and keep him on the clock.

Walmart is already doing all they can to get as many customers into their stores as possible. Rodriguez’s hard life is not Walmart’s fault; it is the “fault” of the customers.

Let’s take a step back and think about this. When companies begin losing money, they have to lay people off. But they try other options before they do so because, without workers, it becomes harder to produce anything of value. When Circuit City and Borders and other companies fell on hard times, they still paid their workers their wages. Likewise, when new companies start up, and are not showing a profit, the employees still get paid. Think about that. Wealth is transferred from the wealthy into the pockets of much less wealthy workers. They get guaranteed income.

So, in many ways, workers are still being taken care of by Walmart, even though they do have to decide hours on the basis of how much business they do.

Is there a way that Walmart could promise consistent hours to employees week after week and still stay in business? Sure, they could lower the hourly rate that they paid these workers (if that was legal).

Wages are just the first step in getting Walmart on the road toward being the type of employer that treats its employees with respect, and part of that is to set some standards around hours and work schedules,” said Rashad Robinson, executive director of ColorOfChange, an online civil rights organization that has campaigned for Walmart to raise wages and give workers better hours.

“It’s about creating an environment where employees are not just at the whim of Walmart,” he said.

No, they are at the whim of the consumers.

When you hear liberals get all upset because “corporations aren’t people,” it is related to the reasoning you see above. If corporations aren’t people, then coercing Walmart about its hours and it wages isn’t enslaving a human being. Corporations are de facto departments of the government distributing another form of welfare. They can coerce these companies and not be guilty of coercing real people who make up these companies.

At the heart of demands for higher wages and better hours, experts say, is the dwindling number of middle-class jobs. More primary wage earners who in the past may have held stable blue-collar jobs in manufacturing are now relying on low-wage jobs at Walmart or other discount retailers to support their families.

Do you see the level of insanity here? Those dwindling middle-class jobs are messing with Walmart’s customer base. Yet, this factor is cited as the reason Walmart has some kind of obligation to pay workers more for more hours. Wake up and smell the economic reality! If they can’t make more money from customers they cannot pay their employees more.