Walmart Workers Prepare For Company Wide Pay Raise — Is Walmart ‘Feeling The Bern’?

Over one million Walmart workers will soon see more money in their paycheck, as Walmart Corporation announced a sweeping pay raise that will take effect next month. According to USA Today, the pay increase will affect workers at both Walmart and Sam’s Club, who will see an increase from $9/hour to $10/hour at minimum. Entry-level workers will not be affected by the pay raise until they complete Walmart’s in-house training program.

The pay increase is expected to bring the average salary of a full-time Walmart employee to $13.38/hour and a median income of $10.58/hour for part-timers. According to CNN, however, members of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union are skeptical that Walmart’s wage increases are anything more than a publicity stunt and contend that the raise in pay will have little meaningful impact on the lives of Walmart employees.

While Walmart employees had lobbied for an increase of pay to $15/hour, CFO Charles Holley announced plans last year to make pay increases via a multi-step program. Holley’s announcement of the changes to Walmart’s pay, however, came with begrudging statements of expected corporate financial losses between 6 and 12 percent, which effectively caused Walmart stock to tumble. Despite Walmart’s lower than expected performance, however, union officials accused Holley of using employee raises as an unnecessary excuse of the company’s poor performance.

Walmart CFO Charles Holley. Image via Koichi Kamoshida/Stringer/Getty
Walmart CFO Charles Holley. Image via Koichi Kamoshida/Stringer/Getty

According to CNN, Jess Levin, a spokesperson for the United Food and Commercial Workers Union, stated, “Walmart should be ashamed for trying to blame its failures on the so-called wage increases. The truth is that hard-working Walmart employees all across the country began seeing their hours cut soon after the new wages were announced.”

While Walmart counteracted those claims by stating more than 500,000 employees had made the transition from part-time to full-time employment, the recent announcement earlier this week of the company’s decision to close 269 stores — 154 of those across the United States — over the course of 2016, affecting more than 16,000 employees, may lend some truth to union claims.

Walmart has long been criticized for paying it’s employees low wages despite being one of the most financially successful corporations in the country. According to a report by Forbes in April of 2014, it was estimated that employees of Walmart had incomes so low that they accounted for $6.2 billion in public assistance programs, including food stamps, Medicaid, and subsidized housing. Besides the fact that many of its workers are on some sort of welfare program, it is also estimated that Walmart corporation is one of the biggest beneficiaries of those who utilize food stamps for groceries, pulling in an estimated $14 billion in revenue of the $80 billion spent on food stamps annually.

An unidentified woman protests on behalf of wage increases for Walmart employees. Image via Scott Olson/Getty Images.
An unidentified woman protests on behalf of wage increases for Walmart employees. Image via Scott Olson/Getty Images.

As previously reported by the Inquisitr, one of the more recent and well-known criticisms has come from Democratic Presidential Candidate Bernie Sanders. Sanders, an admitted socialist, called out the family who owns the Walmart Corporation, pointing out that the Waltons owns “more wealth alone than the bottom 40 percent of the American people.” Sanders then went on to explain the overwhelming amount of Walmart employees who are currently on some form of government subsidized welfare due to the low income provided by the richest family in America.

With that, Sanders called on the Walmart moguls to step up and take care of the employees they rely on to run their stores, saying, “I say to the Walton family, the wealthiest family in this country, get off of welfare, start paying your workers a living wage.”

Although Walmart made its announcement to institute pay raises last year, some speculate that it is the mounting pressure not only from unions and employees to increase pay to a more livable wage, but politicians like Bernie Sanders that have prompted Walmart to even make an effort. Ironically, however, voters who seem to prefer Walmart as a retailer side with Republican candidate Donald Trump. According to USA Today, more Walmart shoppers are likely to vote for Trump despite his belief that wages do not need to increase and workers need to “work really hard” to rise up out of poverty.

In other words, Walmart workers may be “feeling the Bern,” but Walmart shoppers may be just as guilty as the Walmart Corporation for burning employees out of future pay increases.

[Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images]