Walmart Employees Holding Food Drive — For Walmart Employees

Is it proof employees look out for each other, or proof that Walmart only looks out for Walmart?

Walmart Employees Holding Food Drive — For Walmart Employees Photo (cc) by Alameda County Community Food Bank

Walmart has explained why it can’t pay its people more before, but the explanation for this one should be fun: A Cleveland Walmart store is having a food drive for its own employees.

The Cleveland Plain Dealer says the store has a row of orange and purple plastic bins lined up for donations. “Please donate food items so associates in need can enjoy Thanksgiving dinner,” a sign hung over them reads.

The bins are in an employee-only area, the paper says, so it’s not like they’re asking the public for a handout. Here’s the official Walmart response:

Kory Lundberg, a Walmart spokesman, said the food drive is proof that employees care about each other.

“It is for associates who have had some hardships come up,” he said. “Maybe their spouse lost a job. This is part of the company’s culture to rally around associates and take care of them when they face extreme hardships,” he said.

Lundberg also said the initiative was decided at the store level, not higher up. There is a company-wide program called The Associates in Critical Need Trust, which is funded by employee contributions, that gives employees grants of up to $1,500 for hardships.

Nationally, Walmart associates make an average of $12.87 per hour, Lundberg told the Cleveland Plain Dealer. The company considers people working 34 hours per week to be full-time, and the average full-timer works 37 or 38 hours per week.

That means annual pay of about $25,000 for the average employee, but under Walmart’s definition, a minimum-wage full-timer at this Ohio store could be making as little as $14,000 a year.

According to Forbes, Walmart earned $17 billion last year. According to the Huffington Post, “The Walton family was worth $89.5 billion in 2010, the same as the bottom 41.5 percent of U.S. families combined.”

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