John Paul Ashton: Scraping By on Less Than $25K

Reposted from Making Change at Walmart

John Paul “JP” Ashton, is a 31-year old Walmart maintenance worker who makes approximately $20,000 a year and currently lives in Mt. Vernon, Washington. Originally from the Denver, CO area, Ashton, a father of two, began working at Walmart over five years ago to support his family.

“When I first started at Walmart I was told that it was a place where I could grow and have opportunities. I soon discovered that was not the case,” said Ashton. “People take being able to buy lunch for granted. I don’t need a fancy job but what I do need is a job that allows me to provide for my family, speak up about working conditions and needing better wages without fear of retaliation, and hopefully have more than $2 in my bank account after I pay my bills.”’

JP, who must walk 45 minutes to work (often in the snow), prides himself on being a provider for his family. Because he is one of the many Walmart workers who earn less than $25,000 a year, during his time with the mega retailer Ashton has had to, at times, rely on food banks to feed his family. Currently, he receives food stamps in order to put food on the table.

“No one wants to have to rely on food stamps to live and trust me I know how to budget the little money I make but at the end of the day because of what Walmart pays I have no other choice. It’s hard for me to understand how a company that makes all that money and a family that has over $144 billion can justify what they pay workers.”

Ashton, who enrolled in Walmart’s healthcare plan in order to provide insurance to his two children, brings home on average $1200-1400 a month. Often he is not able to pay his rent in full because his bi-weekly paycheck does not cover the full amount and because he walks to work he often has holes in shoes. While many in his situation would give up JP has taken a different approach. JP has decided to take stand and fight.

Ashton joined OUR Walmart because he wanted to have a voice on the job and the ability to speak with management about working conditions without fear of retaliation.

When asked what $25,000 a year would mean for him Ashton’s remark was simple, “Freedom…freedom to do more things for my children.”

“I don’t need or want much. Yes, it would be nice to have a car, maybe a house, it would even be nice to have more than $10 in my bank account. Sam Walton said ‘you treat employees right, treat customers right and we all make money.’ Walmart does not does not live up to that and I am going to keep fighting until they do.”