Walmart Employees Speak Out About Poverty Wages at Los Angeles Welfare Office

Walmart Employees Speak Out About Poverty Wages at Los Angeles Welfare Office 

Workers Criticize Plans for New Chinatown Store and

Plan to Hand out Walmart and Welfare Applications to Public

Los Angeles, CA—Walmart workers will be speaking out at a press conference against a planned grocery expansion site in Chinatown, when their current employment practices are forcing hard-working families to live at a poverty level without vital health benefits. They will be speaking out at the Department of Public Social Services, on 2415 W. Sixth St. Los Angeles, CA 90057, on Thursday, March 8, at 1pm.

The proposed site for Walmart’s first new store in Los Angeles in nearly a decade is located at 701 W. Sunset Boulevard in the Chinatown neighborhood. The store has sparked opposition from community groups who feel the City of Los Angeles and its residents cannot afford to subsidize the poverty wages Walmart pays while making huge profits. Workers plan to use the proposed Walmart grocery store as a public forum to challenge the corporate behemoth to pay family supporting wages and benefits to its current and future employees.

Walmart has led the private sector in having the highest number of employees on public assistance in a third of the nation, with workers earning an estimated 12.4% less than retail work­ers as a whole. Over 700,000 Walmart employees do not have health care coverage from their employer, with Walmart refusing to provide benefits to part-time employees. By aggressively driving down costs and paying substandard wages, Walmart has further concentrated poverty in low-income communities, such as near its Crenshaw and Baldwin Park stores.

“I’ve seen many of my fellow co-workers get driven out of Walmart so that the company can reduce the number of insured employees,” said Angie Rodriguez, Walmart employee at the Baldwin Park store. “We know that the company can afford to and should be paying quality wages to keep its employees off welfare.”

“In 17 states across America, Walmart was responsible for having the most employees of any private employer on welfare,” said Roxana Tynan, executive director of the Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy (LAANE), “Our concern is the lack of job standards in place. Without them, Walmart, in a rush to profit off of disadvantaged communities like Chinatown, will keep them from mired in poverty.”

The proposed store, located at 701 W. Sunset Boulevard, will open below a Chinatown senior citizen center. The development where the store is based once received a $4 million subsidy that mandates the creation of permanent, quality jobs for low-income residents.

“It’s a shame that so many people with families who work at Walmart qualify for Medi-Cal coverage,” said Greg Fletcher, Walmart worker at the Duarte store. “Walmart needs to stand by the requirement that taxpayers funded—if you want to expand your stores, give your employees good, full-time, permanent jobs that allow us to stand on our own and support our families.”

Combining dynamic research, innovative public policy and the organizing of broad alliances, LAANE’s work has helped tens of thousands of people attain better wages and health benefits, and has improved public health for hundreds of thousands of people across the region. LAANE led the coalition of community, clergy, and labor groups to win the “Superstores Ordinance” in the City of Los Angeles and Inglewood in 2004. For more information on LAANE, visit http://www.laane.org

Making Change at Walmart is a campaign challenging Walmart to help rebuild our economy. Anchored by the UFCW, we are a coalition of Walmart associates, union members, small business owners, religious leaders, womens’ advocacy groups, multi-ethnic coalitions, elected officials, and ordinary citizens who believe that changing Walmart is vital for the future of our country.

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