June, 2015

New Study Sheds Light on the Struggles of Involuntary Part-time Workers

Sad-Broken-Piggy-Bank-150pixA new national study by Rutgers University finds that a growing number of part-time workers are being left behind in the economic recovery. According to the study, titled “A Tale of Two Workforces: The Benefits and Burdens of Working Part Time,” nearly one in five Americans are employed in part-time jobs and are working fewer than 35 hours per week.  Nearly 20 million Americans are voluntary part-time workers who are working part-time to supplement their income, pursue an education or care for family members.  However, 6.5 million Americans are involuntary part-time workers who want, but can’t find, full-time employment.

Involuntary part-time workers are twice as likely as voluntary part-time workers to work on weekends and holidays, and are more likely to be subjected to unpredictable schedules.  In addition, more than three-quarters of involuntary part-time workers said their finances are in fair or poor shape, and almost one-third said their financial condition is flat out poor.

The new study was based on a sample survey of 944 part-time workers. The survey was conducted from March 25 to April 6, 2015, by the John J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development at Rutgers University.

New Report Sheds Light on Walmart’s Overseas Tax Havens

Nancy-PayYourFairShareAmericans for Tax Fairness released a new report yesterday that sheds light on Walmart’s placement of at least $76 billion in assets into an elaborate, undisclosed web of 78 subsidiaries and branches in 15 offshore tax havens, which may be used to minimize foreign taxes where it has retail operations and avoid U.S. taxes on those foreign earnings.

The report, titled The Walmart Web: How the World’s Biggest Corporation Secretly Uses Tax Havens to Dodge Taxes, shows that the retail giant has made tax havens central to its growing International division, which now accounts for one-third of the company’s profits. Walmart’s network of 78 undisclosed overseas subsidiaries in tax havens have no retail operations and few, if any, employees. Twenty-two of these paper companies are in Luxembourg alone, a country that plays a central role in the company’s tax haven network.

The retail giant has avoided scrutiny of its international tax dodging in the past by declining to disclose its tax haven subsidiaries on Exhibit 21 (“Subsidiaries”) of the company’s annual 10-K filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

“Companies use tax havens to dodge taxes. It appears that’s the secret game Walmart is playing,” said Frank Clemente, executive director of Americans for Tax Fairness. “We are calling on Congress, federal agencies and international organizations to determine if Walmart is skirting the law when it comes to reporting its use of tax havens, using various schemes to dodge taxes, and getting a sweetheart deal from Luxembourg that is the equivalent of illegal state aid. Average Americans and small businesses have to make up the difference when Walmart doesn’t pay its fair share of taxes.”

Walmart Workers Propose Major Reforms at Shareholder Meeting

venanzi shareLast week, following two weeks of events in cities across the country, Walmart workers held a series of public actions at Walmart’s HQ, as well as at the company’s annual shareholder meeting. During the events, Walmart workers called on the company to make immediate changes across an array of issues, including increasing hourly wages and ending workplace intimidation.

“The time has come for Walmart to take real actions to help improve the lives of Walmart workers and their families. It is simply wrong for Walmart to ignore our calls for change and look the other way as hundreds of thousands of hard-working associates continue to struggle to make ends meet. Walmart must change, and it must change now,” said Cindy Murray, a current Walmart associate.

As part of the actions at the shareholder meeting, Walmart workers called on the company to help lift hundreds of thousands of their dedicated employees out of poverty by paying a living wage, as well as providing stable full-time hours for all associates.

Two leaders of the workers group also presented two resolutions intended to rein in executive compensation and incentivize sustainable investment, such as fair wages and benefits for all workers across Walmart. The resolutions, including a proposal supported by the Sierra Club, also called on Walmart to reduce greenhouse gas emissions produced by international marine shipping.

“Despite some recent efforts on the company’s part to reduce its carbon footprint, Walmart is still one of the largest and fastest-growing polluters in the country,” said Michael Brune, executive director of the Sierra Club. “If Walmart is really serious about driving climate solutions, they should put their money where their mouth is, by setting goals for reducing greenhouse gas emissions from international marine shipping, reporting progress toward those goals to their shareholders, and setting a deadline for 2020 to meet their commitment for 100% clean energy in the U.S.”

During the shareholder’s meeting, the Walmart workers proposed a new policy establishing an independent chairperson for Walmart’s Board of Directors, and called on company leaders to immediately address the recent closure of stores and the laying off of more than 2,200 Walmart workers around the country.

“Mr. Rob Walton, the current non-independent chair of the board, is the most powerful person at our company. The buck stops with him. He could stop these layoffs. He could stop the retaliation. He could stop this company from repeatedly breaking the law. But he has not. That’s why we need an independent chair. ”said Venanzi Luna, a former Walmart employee, who has worked for Walmart in Pico Rivera, Calif., for eight years.

Ms. Luna worked at the first Walmart store to strike in 2012 and one of five stores the company abruptly closed in April, citing “plumbing issues.” More than 2,000 workers were laid off following these sudden closures.

“Our fight to change Walmart will never stop until Walmart does the right thing for all its workers and their families. We’re going to continue to speak out until every hard-working associate is paid a real living wage, full time work that allows them to support their families, and is allowed to stand with their co-workers without fear of retaliation.” said Mary Watkines, a 15-year Walmart associate and shareholder.



Retail Sector Is Driving Inequality, New Report Shows

Graphic 1 - Occupational Segregation rja

via Reuters

via ReutersA new report from Demos and the NAACP underscores how Walmart and the retail industry as a whole are driving inequality. 

A new report from Demos and the NAACP underscores how Walmart and the retail industry as a whole are driving inequality.

The report, titled The Retail Race Divide: How the Retail Industry Is Perpetuating Racial Inequality in the 21st Century, points out that while the retail sector continues to add jobs to the U.S. economy, many of these jobs are low-wage, part-time positions that are keeping Black and Latino workers from climbing up the economic ladder. According to the report, 17 percent of Black and 13 percent of Latino workers in the retail industry are living below the poverty line compared to 9 percent of the retail workers overall.  Black and Latino retail workers are underrepresented in management positions which pay more. For example, while Black workers make up 11 percent of the retail workforce, only 6 percent of these workers are in management positions.

The report points out that Black and Latino retail workers are more likely to hold involuntary part-time positions with erratic hours that make it hard to juggle competing life demands, such as child care, a second job or the ability to go back to school.  Even in full-time sales positions, Black and Latino retail workers earn about 75 cents on the dollar compared to their white colleagues, which amounts to up to $7,500 per year.

There are ways that Walmart, an important employer of women and minorities, and other retailers like Target, IKEA and Savers, can help narrow the racial gaps in the retail sector, including increasing the minimum wage to $15 per hour (which would reduce the poverty rate in this sector by 50 percent); ending involuntary part-time work; and introducing fair scheduling practices.  Members of OUR Walmart, who are also shareholders, will address these issues at Walmart’s shareholders meeting today, and present two resolutions intended to rein in executive compensation and incentivize sustainable investment, such as fair wages and benefits for workers.