In his letter explaining the corporation's latest round of job cuts just weeks before Walmart's stocks plummeted to their lowest level in 15 years, Doug McMillon, President and CEO of Walmart Stores Inc., said "This is an important time in our history -- requiring all of us to think critically about our business and not be afraid to challenge the status quo." As a dedicated Walmart associate, I can say that Walmart's heavy reliance on a part-time workforce and hiring temporary associates is a big part of the problem -- leading to long lines, issues with inventory and many out-of-stock items.
So, Mr. McMillon, I hope you take your own words to heart -- and listen to the thousands of Walmart workers across the country who have spoken out to demand more humane working conditions as well as $15 an hour and 40-hour work weeks. Profits go hand-in-hand with compensating employees fairly, giving them full-time work and respecting them on the job.
The major owner of Walmart is the richest family in the country and the four primary Walton heirs saw their fortune increased by $20.9 billion between March of 2014 and March of 2015. For about half of this money, $10.8 billion, the Waltons could give every one of Walmart's 1.3 million U.S. employees a $5 an hour raise and still pocket $10 billion. Not only is this the right thing to do, it's the smart thing to do -- as taxpayers are effectively subsidizing Walmart's low-wage business model whenever Walmart associates have to use food stamps or public assistance in order to survive.
In most states, a Walmart worker paid $10 an hour, and working the company's full-time schedule of 34 hours a week, would earn just 39 percent of the income needed to support themselves and a single child. My salary is too low for me to afford health insurance and, because Walmart doesn't guarantee job security if we take sick time, my colleagues and myself are forced to go to work, even when we're sick. This is concerning, not just for our health, but also for the health of our customers.
It's terrifying to imagine that we could lose our jobs if we get sick or -- God forbid -- we need to take time off to care for a sick family member. I like my job -- and I love Walmart customers. What I don't like is a constant fear of losing my job if I get sick or when I speak out in support of better workplace protections. I've already been homeless -- and I'm not willing to go back to those days.
Unfortunately, stories like mine are not unique. Jasmine Dixon, another Walmart associate, was punished for requesting better working conditions during her pregnancy. Eventually, she gave up and quit after her manager required her to continue lifting heavy boxes after she requested a less intense work assignment. Not only did she lose her job, she lost all financial security for herself and her family. That's not right -- Walmart associates work too hard for this to be acceptable behavior coming from such a large and profitable corporation.
I tell my grandchildren to stand up to their bullies -- and I think we should stand up to ours. That's why we're asking Walmart to ensure associates are given 40-hour work weeks - and paid $15 an hour. I work hard and I don't want to have to rely on the government to pay my bills - and cover my groceries.
I don't want my grandchildren growing up and working for a company like this. If we can hold the largest corporation in the world accountable to working families like mine, we can transform the industry -- raising up families, supporting our communities and creating an economy that works for us and not just the richest few.