Low prices, low pay at Wal-Mart


A study recently came out that listed Walmart employees as making less than other retail employees. Show is the DeKalb Walmart, located at 2300 Sycamore Rd.

By Danny Ciamprone

“Always low prices, always,” has been Wal-Mart’s slogan for a long time.

The retail giant offers not only low prices, but low wages, according to a new report by the University of California, Berkeley. 

Wal-Mart pays its employees 14.5 percent less than other leading retail companies, according to the report.

“They have a business model in which they are focused on driving down cost anyway they can, and one part of that has been salary,” said Ken Jacobs, chair of the Labor Center at UC Berkeley and a leading researcher for the report.

The report states if Wal-Mart increased wages to $12 for employees, it would cost the company $3.2 billion. This would cost Wal-Mart one percent of the annual $305 billion it earns in sales.

“The claim has been made that it would hurt the poor consumers, so we set out to see if that were really true,” Jacobs said. “What we found is that the benefits to low income workers would far outweigh the cost to consumers. In fact, the cost to consumers would be relatively small.”

According to the report, the increase would be 46 cents per shopping trip for the consumer.

Jacobs said the issue of salaries has been one of the main reasons Wal-Mart has not been able to move into major cities such as Chicago, Los Angeles, Washington D.C. and San Francisco.

These cities have stressed concerns about Wal-Mart’s impact in terms of workers’ benefits and the effects on small businesses.

“The major cities aren’t anti-Wal-Mart, but they don’t want the wage and benefit standard in their community to get eroded,” Jacobs said.

Junior education major Charles Post said when looking for a summer job, he would consider working at Wal-Mart, but it would depend on how much money he was offered.

“I think it’s unfair though they pay their employees less,” Post said. “Now I’m thankful I got a job at Home Depot.”

Another problem Jacobs addressed was the issue of not letting employees unionize.

This is one of the reasons Chicago did not allow the company to be built in the city.

“Wal-Mart has always been very anti-union,” Jacobs said. “In Canada, they shut down an entire store to shut down the union.”

No one from Wal-Mart could be reached for comment by press time.