photo by Sheri Dixon

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Rolling Back Dignity With a Smiley Face

So Walmart has pledged to hire 100,000 veterans in the next five years as a huge 'thank you' for their service to our country, and the heavens open up and the angels sing their praises.

So, 20,000 per year.

There are 4,707 Walmart/Sam's/etc. locations in the US, so that means that this stellar sainted move will employ at each store...

4 people per year.

Now, of course 'all' it will take is for the veteran to show up with his papers of honorable discharge...and for them to qualify for employment just like anyone else.


Those lucky 4 people per location will be tossed into the pool of 1,540,000 Walmart employees. I saw that number and thought, "Wow- that seems like a lot" and it is- over 300 per store. Of course all those 4,707 locations are not stores- there's distribution centers and truck drivers, and the main offices in Arkansas filled with pencil-pushers and all that as well. And the stores are more often than not open 24/7- that's 3 shifts of workers every day. So ya. I guess that's about right.

Also, over a third of Walmart employees are part time, so not eligible for benefits which I guess wouldn't be a problem for veterans in the VA system, but the Walmart press release says NOTHING about whether or not these jobs will be full or part time and the average rate of pay for a part-timer is about $8 per hour and a full time employee makes about $10 per hour, making over a quarter of Walmart employees nationwide eligible for food stamps...because what they make at Walmart even working full time is below the national poverty rate...which is despicable.

Old people like me think, "Hey! $10 is pretty good! When *I* started working the minimum wage was $3.65 and I was able to afford an apartment and a car and food".

Looking back, I remember the apartment was in a crappy part of town- gunfire was a frequent background noise, my car was a 10 year old VW bug and I ate just salad...a lot. Even my cat had to learn to like salad. And that was just iceberg lettuce and generic dressing.

But I digress.

Lets say our returning veteran has 2 kids and a spouse, and the spouse also works at Walmart. They are both lucky enough to be working full time.

Making a combined $20 per hour, they bring home $800 per week or $41,600 per year. That sounds pretty good, right?

Take off a third for taxes and their portion of what Walmart provides for insurance. Now we're down to $27,734.

Poverty level for a family of 4 in the US is $23,050 so our hypothetical family is skating above poverty level by about $90 per week. They're taking home $1,920 per month.

Can you hear the angels singing?

Now figure in things like
rent- if they're hella lucky they can get by with $500
car- lets say just one and give 'em a really low $250 payment
gas for that car (just one, remember) $100
utilities- electric/phone/water...again we'll go low and say $200
insurance on the car and their possessions? $150
food- 4 people? Very frugally $400 per month

Now if anything happens- anything at all- new tires for the car, something at the doctor or dentist not covered by insurance, clothes for work since they can't JUST wear the blue vest of shame, and school clothes and shoes for the kids, any type of daycare at all, anything...they have the princely sum of $73 per week to cover it.

They've put nothing into savings. They've not tithed their 10% to the Lord. We've not considered any other type of credit obligation or loans like student loans or big medical bills.

I haven't even touched on the crappy working conditions, hellacious expectations and the fact that over 70% of Walmart employees quit in the first year.

I read a comment about this that said something like, "I've worked at Walmart. Working at Walmart is just like being unemployed except you have to show up on time and your boss gives you shit all day".

Welcome home, Veterans- this is the way Walmart wants to thank you for your service.

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