Last week Walmart announced that they will raise the starting wage from $9 per hour to $11 per hour and provide 10 weeks of paid parental leave for full-time workers. They will also provide a one-time bonus averaging $400 for employees not eligible for a wage increase. Union of Food and Commercial Workers organizers point out that hourly wages for most workers will remain the same.
While Walmart has claimed that they are able to do so because of the recent tax cut, more prosaic reasons are likely: competition and good organizing.
- Target recently raised its starting wage to $11 per hour with a commitment to $15 per hour in 2020.
- Since the launch of OUR Walmart’s (profiled in Big Hunger) campaign for $15 and full-time, Walmart has raised wages from the minimum wage at $7.25 an hour to $11 an hour. This move is especially important in the South, where most states follow the federal minimum wage.
OUR Walmart’s work was also essential in gaining paid family leave, albeit only for full time employees, as well.
According to Eddie Iny, Campaigns Director at OUR Walmart, “In June 2017, with your support, OUR Walmart and supporters delivered over 100,000 signatures to Walmart Headquarters last year calling for the change to Walmart’s Paid Leave Policy. The changes directly address the issues OUR Walmart, PL+US and others have raised: adding paternity coverage, adoptive parent benefits and parity with the policy provided to Walmart executives.“
These gains will undoubtedly improve the food security of many of Walmart’s 1.5 million associates. The ability of labor organizers to score these victories is all the more impressive given that no food bank nor major anti-hunger group, with the exception of WhyHunger, contributed in a meaningful way to making them happen.
Imagine what could be accomplished if Labor and Hunger stood together to fight for solutions that combined food security and economic justice!