Why Wal-mart?
by Elisha Peck

Did you know?
Wal-Mart is the largest private employer in the US. Only the US government employs more people. 1.7 million people are considered associates in 5,170 stores worldwide. 1.3 million of these employees work in 3,600 US stores.
The average wage for a full-time associate is $10.17 an hour according to the New York State fact page. o According to the Wal-Mart Watch website a full-time employee works 34 hours a week, which is an annual salary of $17,000 - below the national average for retail.
According to the Wal-Mart facts website, "Wal-Mart does not encourage our associates to apply for public assistance." Former managers of Wal-Mart say that employees are encouraged to take advantage of public health care such as Medicaid (Sylvia Chase/PBS).
Wal-Mart employees were eligible for $2.5 billion in federal assistance (paid for by American taxpayers) in 2004 (Harper's Magazine, March 2005).
Wal-Mart acknowledged that 46% of the children of employees are uninsured or on Medicaid (Susan Chambers, Wal-Mart's executive vice president for benefits).

Walmart in poor countries
The company also operates in Argentina, Brazil, Canada, China, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Germany, Guatemala, Honduras, Japan, México, Nicaragua, Puerto Rico, South Korea and the United Kingdom.
Wal-Mart doesn't have to pay workers as much and targets low economies. Countries such as El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexio and Nicaragua are all extremely poor. According to the CIA World Factbook 36% of people from El Salvador are below poverty line, 50% below the poverty line in Nicaragua, 40% below in Mexico, 53% below in Honduras, and 75% below poverty in Guatemala (www.cia.gov).

Wal-Mart opposes public education
According to the National Education Association:

The late John Walton was the biggest contributor to the anti-public education movement, which provided tens of millions of dollars to support it.
Since 1998, the Walton Family Foundation has given more than $100 million to private organizations that finance vouchers to private schools, undermine support for public education, and are intended to increase political pressure for publicly funded vouchers (Mediatransparency.org).

Why not donate to public schools? And why do our communities give subsidies to a company that is not supportive of educating the middle to lower class. What about families that can't afford private schooling? Wal-Mart pays its workers below poverty level so they aren't able to afford better schooling.

Sucking Taxpayers dry
A Congressional report estimates that every 200-employee Wal-Mart store costs federal taxpayers $420,750 a year: $36,000 for free and reduced school lunches; $42,000 for housing assistance; $125,000 for federal tax credits and deductions for low-income families; $100,000 for Title 1; $108,000 for the federal share of state children's health program costs; $9,750 for low income energy assistance (Committee on Education and the Workforce Democratic Staff, House of Representatives, 2/16/04).

Wal-Mart Shuts Down Unions
According to the Wal-Mart website: "At Wal-Mart, we respect the individual rights of our associates and encourage them to express their ideas, comments and concerns. Because we believe in maintaining an environment of open communications, we do not believe there is a need for third-party representation."
When Wal-Mart learns about a union organizing, a team is sent in from its corporate headquarters in Bentonville.

Whether you shop at Wal-Mart or not, we can all demand changes from this company. Interested in making a difference?
Recently, Mayor Driscoll declared that he is interested in inviting Wal-Mart into the south side of Syracuse. Southside Community groups are organizing to oppose this decision. Contact Khalid Bey, Southside Community Coalition at 315-516-1312. For more information, see: www.walmartfacts.com, www.walmartwatch.com

Elisha, an SPC intern, is about to graduate from Le Moyne College. Why Wal-mart?