Walmart “Offended” by Pushback on Charity Aimed at Walmart Employees

Walmart

November 19, 2013; UPI

Yesterday, NPQ covered a story about a Walmart store that had placed food donation bins in employee-only areas for “associates in need.” As one might predict, many had something to say about the wage levels of the retail giant, which force many associates onto food stamps and to charity relief. But Brooke Buchanan, a Walmart spokeswoman, said the corporation, which does not itself contribute to the relief of its badly paid staff, was “offended” by the criticism.

“This program was completely taken out of context. We are offended. This was an act of human kindness for our associates.” And in fact, Buchanan said Walmart employees have donated $80 million through Associates in Critical Need Trust since 2001. The Walmart Foundation’s website advertises that it logged $1 billion dollars in charitable expenditures in 2012. Perhaps this is what Peter Buffett was referring to when he wrote in his op-ed about corporate leaders who “search for answers with their right hand to problems that others in the room have created with their left.”

“As more lives and communities are destroyed by the system that creates vast amounts of wealth for the few,” he says, “the more heroic it sounds to ‘give back.’ It’s what I would call ‘conscience laundering’—feeling better about accumulating more than any one person could possibly need to live on by sprinkling a little around as an act of charity.”

Where’s the justice?

Speaking of human kindness, the Organization United for Respect is challenging Walmart to pay its employees enough to feed their families without having to use charity or food stamps. “Walmart is asking us to donate food to our co-workers. Why can’t Walmart pay us enough so we can feed our families?” Meanwhile, the Nation reports that on Monday, the National Labor Relations Board ruled that Walmart had broken the law by firing and harassing employees who protested the company’s poverty pay and abusive labor practices.The NLRB will prosecute illegal firings and disciplinary actions involving more than 117 workers.—Ruth McCambridge

About

Ruth McCambridge

Ruth is Editor in Chief of the Nonprofit Quarterly. Her background includes forty-five years of experience in nonprofits, primarily in organizations that mix grassroots community work with policy change. Beginning in the mid-1980s, Ruth spent a decade at the Boston Foundation, developing and implementing capacity building programs and advocating for grantmaking attention to constituent involvement.

  • Josiah

    If they pay at or above minimum wage, then there is nothing else to say. Walmart doesn’t force anyone to work there, it is a choice. They also give jobs to many who don’t have the skills needed to work flipping burgers.
    As for criticizing any charity effort, that is uncalled for.

  • JIMFITZSR

    I BELIEVE EVERYONE SHOULD HAVE INSURANCE AND UNLESS HANDICAPPED THEY SHOULD PAY FOR IT THRU PROGRAMS LIKE OBAMACARE.

    WHY SHOULD EMPLOYEES OF WALMART HAVE TO USE GOVERNMENT PROGRAMS TO LIVE AND I BELIEVE THE COMPANY RECRUITS EMPLOYEES THAT HAVE GOVERNMENT FINANCED HEALTH CARE TO SAVE THEM THE COST.

    I READ AN ARTICLE RECENTLY THAT THE COST TO WALMART TO PAY A LIVING WAGE COULD BE AS LOW AS $.50 PER EACH TOTAL TRANSACTION IF WALMART DECIDED TO PASS THIS COST ALONG.

    THE PRESENT SYSTEM INCREASES THE NUMBER OF PEOPLE ON PUBLIC ASSISTANCE BECAUSE THEY DO NOT HAVE A LIVING WAGE. THIS NOT ONLY APPLIES TO WALMART BUT MANY OF THE LARGE BOX STORES, FOOD SERVICE CHAINS ETC.
    WHEN I BEGAN MY WORKING CAREER I COULD PROVIDE FOR MY FAMILY ON ONE PAYCHECK!! I COULD NOT DO THAT TODAY! WHY? THE ANSWER IS OBVIOUS.

  • Tricia Maddrey Baker

    Wal-Mart’s treatment of their employees offends me, yet I don’t see them running to apologize to me.

    If they really want to improve their image, whitewashing won’t help. Wal-Mart must pay their employees a living wage, and NOT by cash card.

  • Julie

    I’m offended that the Wal Mart Walton Family, the richest family in the world (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Walton_family) pays their employees so poorly -whether they need the food shelf or not is irrelevant in the big picture. Their employee wages and benefits are SHAMEFUL for an organization that has made a very small group of people Extremely, Extremely, wealthy. Want another reason not to shop at WalMart? Here’s one. Care about other human beings and demand they make a living wage instead of a very small group of executives or descendents being multi Billionaires.

    This is ridiculous. Oh, and by the way? You and I pay for all their social services while the Walton’s get richer. :)

  • LAWRENCE GALLAGHER

    IF WE PUT WALMART IN CHARGE OF THE NATIONS ECONOMY, WE’D BE OUT OF DEBT REAL QUICK…