The following addresses the allegations made during the first panel of today’s City Council Hearing:
Walmart Has No Impact On Small Businesses: An allegation was made that Walmart reduces wages at small businesses and hurts competitors. According to a 2005 paper by senior Obama Administration economist Jason Furman, “The existing evidence – taken together – shows that the entry of Walmart raises real wages for workers in general merchandise, grocery, and retail more broadly.”
NLRB Has Brought Only One Case In Last Three Years: In the last three years, the National Labor Relations Board has filed only one complaint against Walmart out of 36 total charges filed against the Company in 2008, 2009, and 2010.
In NY, The Average Full-Time Hourly Wage Is $13.27/Hour: Walmart policy is to pay its associates for every hour they work and provides rest and meal breaks. Walmart posts the average hourly wages in every state where it does business. In New York, the average hourly wage for full-time associates is $13.27/hour. Click here for more.
Meal & Rest Breaks: Walmart provides its associates with meal and rest breaks. In legal actions that have been brought against the company alleging that it did not comply with that policy, courts have found that the allegations made in those cases were an aberration. A California court found that Walmart’s “meal period compliance rate is a benchmark for any other large-scale national retailer…” Another court rejected claims that Walmart’s corporate culture drove any alleged wage-and-hour violations.
Wage Theft: An allegation was made that Walmart settled “wage and hour” lawsuits in order to clear the deck. Here’s what Franklin Azar, the plaintiff’s attorney in that case, had to say about the settlement: “We are pleased with this settlement and believe it is fair and reasonable for our clients. We are equally pleased that Walmart has made tremendous strides in wage and hour compliance and that it has implemented and agreed to continue to follow state of the art compliance programs so that these improvements will continue into the future. We hope Walmart’s compliance programs will serve as an example to other major retailers.”
Dukes Case: The underlying allegations being made in the Dukes case have NOT been heard by any court. The only issue that has been litigated at this point is whether it should be heard as a class action or as individual cases. The Wall Street Journal editorialized against allowing the Dukes case to be heard as a class action given the need to vet merits of each of the cases. The issue is now pending before the U.S. Supreme Court. Ms. Dukes still works for Walmart.
Medicaid: A claim that was made at the last hearing about Walmart employees using Medicaid was repeated. As noted last time, Obama Administration adviser Jason Furman noted in a 2005 paper that President Bill Clinton’s welfare reform law changed public assistance programs to focus on helping working families, increasing Medicaid eligibility by as much as 300 percent above the poverty line:
President Bill Clinton, “changed the nature of social assistance in America, shifting from assistance to the non-working indigent to assistance that supports families who work…. In some states, Medicaid eligibility extends up to as much as 200 percent of the poverty line for parents and 300 percent of the poverty line for children.”
Furman also notes that “5% of Walmart employees are on Medicaid, which is similar to the percentage for other large retailers and comparable to the national average of 4%. [...] The fact that Walmart employees top Medicaid rolls in a number of states is simply a reflection of Walmart’s enormous size, not the higher likelihood that its employees will be on Medicaid.”
EITC: Walmart was attacked for having a program to maximize participation in the Earned Income Tax Credit. With the sluggish economy expected to make more Americans eligible for tax refunds, the Walmart Foundation is in fact working to educate families about the EITC. Income level thresholds for EITC eligibility range from $100 to $48,362 and the Foundation wants to make Americans aware of potential tax credits. Walmart is also donating $4.2 million to United Way Worldwide, One Economy and the National Disability Institute’s Real Economic Impact Tour to provide free tax filing services this year to Americans nationwide.