Americans Call On Obama to Challenge Walmart to End Income Inequality, Take Real Steps Towards Sustainability

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Giovanna Frank-Vitale 646.200.5334, Giovanna.vitale@berlinrosen.com
Derrick Plummer 202.466.1576, dplummer@ufcw.org

Americans Call On Obama to Challenge Walmart to End Income Inequality, Take Real Steps Towards Sustainability

WASHINGTON - Today, responding to President Obama’s call to address the income inequality that he said was the "defining challenge of our time," Walmart workers, elected officials, faith leaders and prominent environmental and advocacy groups are calling on the president to challenge Walmart to take real steps to improve jobs and protect the environment. The wave of calls for change comes as the president visits a northern California Walmart store in Mountain View, CA, where hundreds of people are rallying and asking him to challenge the low-wage employer to improve jobs.

“When I heard President Obama was visiting my store, I wanted to tell him what income inequality really looks like—right here working at the country’s largest employer,” said Pam Ramos a Mountain View Walmart worker. “I bring home $400 every two weeks. That isn’t enough to cover the bills, and all I can afford to eat for lunch is a cup of coffee and a bag of potato chips. The president needs to know there is no solution to end income inequality in this country that doesn’t include improving jobs at Walmart. We are here today to ask him to stand with us in calling on Walmart to raise wages and pay my co-workers and me a minimum of $25,000 a year for full-time work.”

In addition to the hundreds that rallied outside of the store, 32 groups including, Global Exchange, Jobs with Justice, Moveon.org, and Rainforest Action Network, signed onto the joint statement below:

“It’s hard to understand why President Obama, who has stated that inequality is the ‘defining issue of our time’ and stressed the need to tackle climate change, has decided to visit Walmart—a company known for paying low wages and doing little to address its poor environmental record.

“Walmart is making no progress on clean energy. In fact, it is going backwards. According to the EPA its use of renewable energy has dropped in the last two years and just 3 percent of Walmart’s powercomes from its wind and solar projects. Nine years ago it said it wanted to become a sustainability leader. Instead, it lags behind many of its competitors and small businesses already using 100% renewable energy.

“Even though the company makes $16 billion in profits, hundreds of thousands of Walmart workers are paid less than $25,000 a year. Pam Ramos, who works at the Mountain View Walmart the President is visiting, is living in her car because low wages and medical bills keep her from covering the rent.

“We are asking the President to challenge Walmart to help strengthen the American economy and protect our environment by becoming a leader in sustainability and creating better jobs. The country’s largest employer should not only be supporting the bill to raise the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour, it should be providing workers a minimum of $25,000 a year and full-time work.”

The groups who signed the joint statement:

·         Change to Win

·         Cincinnati Interfaith Workers Center

·         Coalition of Labor Union Women

·         ColorOfChange

·         Environmental Action

·         Fair World Project

·         Food and Water Watch

·         Food Chain Workers Alliance

·         FWAF

·         Global Exchange

·         Institute for Local Self-Reliance

·         Interfaith Worker Justice

·         Jobs with Justice

·         Jobs with Justice SF

·         LAANE

·         Labor Council for Latin American Advancement

·         Making Change at Walmart, Puget Sound

·         Massachusetts Jobs With Justice

·         Moveon.org

·         Rainforest Action Network

·         RH Reality Check

·         Right to the City Alliance

·         The Other 98%

·         The Ruckus Society

·         UFCW 152 NJ.

·         UFCW 1776

·         UFCW local 1473

·         UFCW Local 555

·         United Students Against Sweatshops

·         USAction

·         Warehouse Worker Resource Center

·         Western Massachusetts Jobs with Justice

Walmart workers—part of OUR Walmart—have been taking the country’s income inequality head on by calling on the giant retailer to publicly commit to ending retaliation against workers and provide better wages for workers. While the majority of associates are paid less than $25,000 a year, Walmart makes $16 billion in annual profits and the Waltons—the richest family in the country—have a combined wealth of more than $148 billion. Many workers must rely on taxpayer-supported programs like food stamps and public health care just to get by.

Marketplace recently revealed that Walmart is the biggest beneficiary of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, otherwise known as food stamps. Walmart takes 18 percent of all food stamp dollars— or $13 billion in revenue. A Congressional report calculated that Walmart workers are forced to rely on $900,000 in taxpayer funded supports, including food stamps and healthcare, at just one of the company’s 4,000 stores. 

Environmentalists have also been calling on the company to take real steps towards sustainability, recently awarding the company the "greenwasher of the year" award for its efforts to talk the talk about sustainability, without taking real, meaningful steps towards even meeting its own goals – or standards in the industry. Just 3 percent of Walmart’s power comes from its wind and solar projects and its use of renewable energy has fallen 25% in the last two years.Walmart continues to lag behind many of its competitors including Kohl's, Staples, and Whole Foods who are already using 100% renewable energy.

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OUR Walmart works to ensure that every Associate, regardless of his or her title, age, race, or sex, is respected at Walmart. We join together to offer strength and support in addressing the challenges that arise in our stores and our company everyday.

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