As we approach Labor Day, the growing divide between the rich and poor continues to dominate the national conversation and, in some parts of the country, has led to social unrest. While many politicians, academics and economists agree that our country’s wealth gap is bad for the economy and our society as a whole, there is only so much they can do. Big players in the business world must address income inequality, as well.
There is no company more responsible for creating and reinforcing the wealth gap through its low-wage, part-time business practices than Walmart, our country’s largest private employer. At the company’s own admission, the majority of Walmart’s 1.4 million workers are paid less than $25,000 a year. That means that too many Walmart workers are struggling to cover the basic necessities like food and shelter and are forced to rely on taxpayer funded supports like food stamps to survive.
Walmart can afford to pay its workers more. The company makes between $16 and $17 billion a year in profits, and just six members of the Walton Family—heirs to the Walmart empire—have more wealth than 42 percent of American families combined.
Labor Day is a perfect moment for Walmart to lead by example and help ease the economic and social unrest that is plaguing our country. The Retail Justice Alliance calls on Walmart to change the way it does business so that Walmart workers can support their families and contribute to their local communities and economies.