Walmart's bait-and-switch

By BERRY CRAIG

AFT Local 1360

Walmart’s bait-and-switch didn’t surprise Bill Londrigan, president of the Kentucky State AFL-CIO.

“This is the second huge corporation to pull this stunt,” he said. 

Right after Walmart President and CEO Doug McMillon announced that the country's largest retailer was boosting wages for new hires to $11 an hour and giving some hourly workers one-time bonuses of up to $1,000, the company added a Lt. Colombo-like, "One more thing" -- we’re closing a bunch of Sam's stores nationwide, some without advance notice.

AT&T, Londrigan recalled, "promised bonuses, then laid off thousands.” 

McMillon said the raises and bonuses are a direct result of the GOP tax cuts. “The billionaire class is trying desperately to give Congress and the liar-in-chief cover for passing the biggest tax giveaway to the rich and their corporations in history while sticking it to everyone that works for a living,” Londrigan said. "Oh, well, we told you so.”

Similarly Randy Parraz, director of the UFCW's Making Change at Walmart campaign, put out a statement in which he called the raises and bonuses "a public relations stunt."

He agreed that "raises are usually a good thing." But Parraz's statement warned that Walmart's real aim was "to distract from the reality that they are laying off thousands of workers and the ones who remain will continue to receive low wages.

"The fact is that Walmart is not permanently investing the estimated $2 billion it will receive annually from Trump’s tax giveaway to its workers – it is keeping almost all of it. This announcement is an attempt to repair a crumbling image, while ignoring thousands of its workers who struggle year after year to pay their bills or depend on government assistance."

Added Parraz: "Once you crack the veneer, you see that Walmart’s wage increases do not raise hourly wages for many of its workers. Hourly wages for those workers making above $11 dollars will essentially stay the same. Workers will get a one-time bonus or raise, but not both.

"Instead of taking Walmart at its word, we would hope that the Members of Congress, civic and state leaders, and the media, ask Walmart for actual facts about what this means for workers. Empty words will not lift Walmart workers out of poverty, an actual living wage will.”

Making Change at Walmart is working to make the company a more responsible employer and to better the lives of Walmart workers, according to the campaign website.

Explains the website, "Walmart is owned by one of the richest families in the country but its workers still struggle with poverty wages, erratic schedules, understaffed and under-stocked stores, and mistreatment from management. We believe Walmart can afford to do better and that change at Walmart would mean change for retail employees everywhere."