“Free us from the grasp of greedy organized labor.” So said a Walmart supporter at the Antioch Planning Commission meeting, according to your May 28 article. The article goes on to describe the numerous Walmart employees who attended this meeting to show their approval of this company and their practices.
So I ask myself if the folks at Raley’s and Safeway, where I shop, are included in this “greedy organized” group, since they are said to average $22 per hour instead of the $12 per hour paid to non-union Walmart workers? I want to believe that these Walmart employees really do not think that they would be overpaid if they were making $22 per hour. More likely, they were encouraged to attend this meeting to protect and defend their existing jobs.
I doubt that a worker making $12 or $22 per hour and is the only income earner in a family can aspire to own a home or maintain one if they somehow happen to own it. Certainly, whether one owns or rents, they had better have a second job or live with another wage earner if they have children. The official U.S. poverty level for a family of five is $25,790, which is more than the $24,960 annual salary of the $12 per hour Walmart worker (assuming they work a 40-hour week).
So let’s be honest. Walmart wages may be quite acceptable if you are supplementing the family income, you are someone else’s dependent, or have another source of income. Otherwise, you cannot independently survive on your own if you aspire for more that basic food, clothing and shelter.
I suggest that the person who felt shackled by “greedy organized labor” take a look at the pay of all Contra Costa County workers that are listed on the Contra Costa Times Web site. Eighty percent of the 10,637 compensated workers made more than $24,960 in 2009. It appears that those making less than this Walmart threshold were not full-time county employees or did not work the entire year.
I don’t think greed, speciously characterized as the motive of supermarket workers, is an exclusive attribute of organized labor. Case in point: the four heirs of the Walmart family have been able to collectively amass a fortune of $90 billion through the labor of its non-union employees. On the bright side, these underpaid workers know where to go to buy cheap goods.
For the record, neither I nor anyone in my immediate family is a member of a union.
Richard Ahern, Oakley