Wal-Mart Workers Don’t Earn Enough to Cover Thanksgiving Dinner

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News this week that a Wal-Mart store in Ohio was holding an employee-to-employee food drive “so Associates in Need can enjoy Thanksgiving dinner,” reignited the debate over the low wages Wal-Mart employees earn. More than half of Wal-Mart employees earn less than $25,000 a year, and a slew of labor protests have occurred over the past year. Even Ashton Kutcher got in on it:

Walmart is your profit margin so important you can’t Pay Your Employees enough to be above the poverty line? http://t.co/YT8QDmyJ8G

— ashton kutcher (@aplusk) November 19, 2013

.@aplusk It’s unfortunate that an act of human kindness has been taken so out of context. We’re proud of our associates in Canton.

— Walmart Newsroom (@WalmartNewsroom) November 19, 2013

@WalmartNewsroom you should be proud of your associates but I’m not sure if they should be proud of you.

— ashton kutcher (@aplusk) November 19, 2013

Mother Jones says that Walmart could pay its workers more by shuffling money away from buying back its own stock:

According to the report, “A Higher Wage Is Possible,” Walmart spends $7.6 billion a year buying back stock. Those purchases drive up the company’s share price, further enriching the Walton family, which controls more than half of Walmart stock (and for that matter, more wealth than 42 percent of Americans combined.) If Walmart instead spent that money on wages, it could give each of its 1.3 million US employees a $5.83 per hour raise — enough to ensure that all of them are paid a wage equivalent to $25,000 a year for full-time work.

Unfortunately, if the choice is to drive up the company’s share price, or pay their employees more, as a business the retail giant will choose the former. Today, Wal-Mart workers and supporters will announce a plan to protest Black Friday.

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