It seems Walmart is officially in a standoff with the Washington, D.C., City Council over its proposal for a living wage law. The Council will soon vote on a bill that would raise DC’s minimum wage to $12.50 per hour, and Walmart workers typically earn $8.81 per hour.
Walmart offers a promise to bring “everyday low prices”, but studies show that an average of 80 percent of Walmart employees are forced to use food stamps.
Just to put wages into perspective, Walmart’s biggest competitor, Costco, pays its worker’s $21.96 an hour and most are also eligible for health benefits.
In a recent report by the Democratic staff of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, the cost of Walmart’s low wages aren’t felt only by its employees, but also transferred to American taxpayers. The report zeroes in on Walmart in Wisconsin because the state releases information on how many workers are enrolled in its public health care program broken down by employer.
Employing 1.4 million people nationwide, at the end of 2012, there were 3,216 Walmart employees enrolled in Wisconsin public health care programs, more than any other employer. Add in the dependents of Walmart workers and the total jumps up to 9,207. A single 300-employee Walmart Supercenter store in Wisconsin costs taxpayers at least $904,542 a year in public assistance payments.
One of the ways Walmart manages to keep costs down is to hire part-time or temp workers, thereby avoiding the mandate of Affordable Healthcare which requires large companies to pay health benefits for full-time employees.
According to Forbes.com and sources interviewed by Reuters who asked to remain anonymous, “Full-time people are getting slimmer and slimmer,” said a supervisor at a store in North Carolina, who asked not to be named, as did other store-level employees who were interviewed for this story, because she is not authorized to talk to the media.
She said that the five new employees hired this year at the store are all temps and hours of existing employees are being cut. “Everybody who comes through the door I hire as a temporary associate,” said a store manager in Alaska, who asked not to be identified. “It’s a company direction at the present time.”
A Reuters survey of 52 stores run by the largest U.S. private employer in the past month, including one in every U.S. state, showed that 27 were hiring only temps, 20 were hiring a combination of regular full, part-time and temp jobs, and five were not hiring at all.