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Grayson writes: "How underpaid are Walmart employees? This underpaid: if every one of them got a 30 percent raise, Walmart would still be profitable."

Grayson: 'Even though those employees comprise barely 10 percent of its cost of doing business, Walmart exploits them mercilessly.' (photo: Joseph Huff-Hannon)
Grayson: 'Even though those employees comprise barely 10 percent of its cost of doing business, Walmart exploits them mercilessly.' (photo: Joseph Huff-Hannon)

My Thanksgiving: A Turkey Sandwich at Walmart

By Alan Grayson, Reader Supported News

26 November 12


did not spend Thanksgiving evening with my wife and my five children. I spent it, instead, handing out turkey sandwiches to workers in Walmart. And showing my support for one brave soul who walked off the job in protest against exploitation.

Walmart "associates" make an average of just more than $10 an hour. That means that if they manage to get a full 40 hours a week -- and many don't -- they get paid $1,700 a month, before taxes. Somehow, that is supposed to pay for their food, shelter, clothing and medical care, and that of their children. Quite a trick.

In state after state, the largest group of Medicaid recipients is Walmart employees. I'm sure that the same thing is true of food stamp recipients. Each Walmart "associate" costs the taxpayers an average of more than $1,000 in public assistance.

How underpaid are Walmart employees? This underpaid: if every one of them got a 30 percent raise, Walmart would still be profitable.

Walmart employees in the United States are not unionized. Walmart has used every trick in the book to prevent its employees from organizing. In 2005, in Canada, Walmart closed a store that had voted to go union. Recently, in Orlando, Walmart fired an employee who had just talked about unionizing. When he came back into the store, many days afterward, to say hello to his former colleagues, they handcuffed him.

It's time to do something about this.

So on Thanksgiving, knowing that Walmart employees were missing dinner with their families, we walked into the local Walmart and handed out dinner to them. We gave them a paper bag that had three things in it: (a) a turkey sandwich, (b) a bag of chips, and (c) a letter explaining their right to organize.

There were two points to this. One was to inform the workers of their rights. And the other was to demonstrate to them, vividly, that they are not alone.

The Walmart manager had the police escort us out of the building. For handing out sandwiches. And for showing Walmart employees that they are not alone.

One brave "associate," who had had enough of this mistreatment, walked out with us. Which is her right, under the law, to protest Walmart's unfair labor practices. In fact, a while back, 200 employees walked out of a Walmart store, all at the same time. That really shook up the bosses.

By the way, she made sure that she finished serving her customer before she left. She's that kind of person. WalMart actually could use a few more like her.

I showed my support. I gave her a hug.

And so it begins. Walmart accounts for more than 10 percent of all of the retail sales in the United States. It is the largest private employer in the world, with more than two million employees. And even though those employees comprise barely 10 percent of its cost of doing business, Walmart exploits them mercilessly. Now Walmart employees are starting to organize, starting to fight back.

Who will win? I don't know. But I do know whose side I'm on. And I know that I'm not alone.


Rep. Alan Grayson

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+30 # BradFromSalem 2012-11-26 10:00
Welcome back to Congress, Rep. Grayson.

Walmart may not be the most egregious offender of associate treatment, but without a doubt they are the biggest. Currently, Union retailers, are being forced to curtail some their labor practices that made them wonderful places to work. Management and especially the Unions themselves don't want the workers to be so underpaid. But, Walmart's size allows them to lower their supply chain costs so much, that smaller retailers cannot compete unless they reduce pay and benefits. Walmart is too big, they are dictating prices to their suppliers, and forcing down labor wages and benefits across America (and the world).

Please continue these small steps in Congress with fair labor laws and enforcement of anti trust laws.

Capitalism must be balanced and competitive to work, right now its broken. Fix Walmart and change a small but significant broken piece.
+28 # DPM 2012-11-26 10:25
We didn't have much of a turn out in Traverse City, MI., but there were half as many sheriff's deputies, called in by the store, as there were protesters. Plus supervisory people guarding the entrance. We must have really looked scary!
+15 # in deo veritas 2012-11-26 12:45
welcome to the Third Reich. Those damned local yokels should have joined the protest. The taxpayers should be upset about what their showing up cost them. To hell with Wal-mart. I will drive further to do business elsewhere even if I pay more. Wal-mart is the biggest supporter of Communist China by selling their crap and screwing Americans who work for this evil empire.
+15 # jlohman 2012-11-26 10:25
One thing you do know, Alan, is that if the politicians were not getting a piece of the action, in campaign bribes, they'd fix this travesty.

+32 # Michael Lee Bugg 2012-11-26 10:40
Walmart has caused the loss of more American manufacturing jobs than any other business we have. They threaten their suppliers with loss of shelf space if they don't reduce their wholesale price, which means they must reduce their labor cost, the only thing they can significantly change. If this is not enough to satisfy Walmart they shut down their American manufacturing plants and import an inferior copy of their product(s) from China, South Korea, Vietnam, Pakistan, Indonesia, India, Mexico, or wherever they can exploit slave labor! Then Walmart sticks us with their employee's health care through Medicaid. The Walton family are among the most selfish, greedy people in America! The 0.1 of the top 1%!
+15 # in deo veritas 2012-11-26 12:50
Thw Waltons are even worse than the Koches. Despite their pouring tons of illegal campaign contributions to the Repugs do they treat their workers this badly? I have to wonder. I guess Wal-mart is so powerful they( the Waltons) don't give a damn who is in government as long as they can control them.
+11 # in deo veritas 2012-11-26 12:54
Wal-mart should have to fly a Chinese flag outside their store as iot is the biggest supporter of their regime by selling their crap. The best way to beat both would be to put an embargo on imports from China. Fat chance as so many in Congress are getting their money under the table.
+30 # j.a.o 2012-11-26 10:40
Go gettum Grayson!!!!! I'm with you all the way! So glad you'll be back in Congress again. Give them hell too!
+27 # robbak11 2012-11-26 11:19
It feels like the tide is finally starting to turn against Walmart. Thanks, congressman, for helping it along. By the way, we were overjoyed to hear of your re-election to the house, as well as to see Alan West's fall from grace. Please keep doing what you're doing! Rob Kane
+20 # terry 2012-11-26 11:33
Alan Grayson is a great American leader. Alan is speaking for millions of people who feel the same way as he does but don't have the courage to do and say what he does. I salute Alan Grayson for his outstanding work, his courage and the innovative way he responds to what needs to be corrected in our society.
+19 # Bev 2012-11-26 11:48
Oh, yes! And I am old enough to remember when Wal Mart first started -- everything, they boasted, was "Made in America!"
+18 # Doggone 2012-11-26 11:50
YAY for Grayson!!!! Thank you for supporting those who are at the bottom, who feel like no one cares, they need all of us to stand up to the giants like Walmart and Monsanto.
+9 # cafetomo 2012-11-26 12:54
Pay peanuts, get monkeys. All well and fine, if you're at the zoo.

Walmart makes it clear that employers can retain workers below a living wage, and get away with it. Hospitals demonstrably take note and follow suit. It becomes more than just your server hanging their livelihood on the precarious hopes of a tip. It is a prevailing standard of being overworked and unqualified, hired on the cheap, understandably failing to note such things as correct medication, proper sanitation, or any number of actions vitally necessary to avoid the death of the most vulnerable. It's one thing to get a shitty flat screen. Quite another when your newborn now has permanent retardation because they won't pay someone who understands dosage.

I am certainly happy that this gentleman thinks the bar in our society should be a bit higher, for everyone's sake.
+5 # KittatinyHawk 2012-11-26 15:01
Most Walmart Employees I know make minimum wage. Lil advancement for all.

I stopped shopping when warehouse workers went on strike I rarely shop there due to Foreign or Monsanto.

I buy American, always have... not to say I do not have foreign demanding American Same with food but that nay change if we do not get rid of Monsanto.

Thanks for your support, hope the cops got fed too sure they would have rather not been there,
Buy American Made...Expose Walmart and others for their Anti American behavior
+11 # reiverpacific 2012-11-26 15:20
Most people don't know (but more appear to be getting wise to the fact) that Walmart has a "Quick-response " team to root out any suggestion of organization and shoot the perpetrator(s) out the door.
Sadly, like DPM, I've heard a similar story about cops/protesters % quotients in Portland Oregon, where faux-shoppers dressed as Zombies were walking around the WM's and Targets just to make a point more theatrically.
Sadly though, the majority of Americans seem to have just ignored the protests in desperate search for junk they don't need as urged by the dumbing-down process and unfettered commercialism by the owner media.
+4 # Annette Saint John Lawrence 2012-11-27 02:24
I simply wanted to say: God Bless You Alan Grayson. You have been blessed with a good heart.

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