Walmart has a long history of treating its workers poorly, paying notoriously low wages, providing substandard benefits, discriminating against women and intimidating employees who try to assert their rights.
Union members have known for decades that America’s largest employer is bad for communities, bad for workers and bad for the economy.
But does the public at large know the extent of Walmart’s negative impact?
A report by Americans for Tax Fairness may be a wake-up call for those who don’t already realize the extent of misguided tax policies that subsidize Walmart’s destructive business practices.
The report estimates that Walmart receives $6.2 billion in tax breaks each year, mostly from the federal government, as the company rakes in tens of billions of dollars in profits.
In a recent USA Today commentary titled “The Walmart Tax Every American Taxpayer Pays,” Lonnie Sheppard, from UFCW Local 1529 in Memphis, writes:
“The world’s largest retailer, infamous for its poor working conditions and unfair treatment of employees, pays its workers so little that thousands of Walmart employees are forced to rely on public assistance programs like food stamps, Medicaid and subsidized housing. Programs funded by American taxpayers.”
“No matter the town or city, if you have a Walmart in your community, you are paying a Walmart Tax,” Sheppard continues.
“In fact, a single Walmart Supercenter is estimated to cost taxpayers between $904,542 and $1.74 million per year in public assistance money.”
Knowing the truth
Local 152 members and other union members nationwide refuse to shop at Walmart because every dollar it receives contributes to the destruction of good union jobs and lower standards for everyone in the retail industry. Not all shoppers feel the same, however, and in some parts of the country Walmart is the only local retailer.
These shoppers deserve to know about the hidden tax that goes into Walmart’s low prices.
Sheppard outlines a solution to Walmart’s reliance on taxpayer dollars:
“With billions in profits, Walmart can easily do the right thing and pay its workers a better wage,” he writes.
“Logically, if Walmart increased employee wages, and/or provided better benefits, much of the burden would be lifted off the taxpayer.”