This month marks 50 years since Sam Walton opened the first Walmart store. Walmart established in its first year-situated by a major thoroughfare in Rogers, Arkansas- the hallmarks of its business, offering the cheapest merchandise and exploiting a loophole in federal law that allowed Walton to pay his mostly female workforce less than minimum wage. The standards that were set that year in 1962, that wring workers and suppliers for every advantage possible, has worked out pretty well for the Walton family and Walmart investors: Walmart is now the second-largest corporation on earth, and took in almost half a trillion dollars last year. There are 10,000 Walmart locations worldwide.
But while Walmart is raking in the dough, our economy is suffering. The Walmartization of America has driven down wages and benefits in the retail industry and hurt good jobs in this country. It’s been a tough 50 years for many Americans. When we look at Walmart's track record, its easy to pinpoint what went wrong with our economy. Wages have stagnated. The middle class has shrunk. The ranks of the working poor have swelled. Whatever we may have saved shopping at Walmart, we've more than paid for it in diminished opportunities and declining income.
The Waltons are celebrating 50 years of Walmart, but Walmart workers, customers, and community members are taking this opportunity to speak out. “Walmart at 50: How Making Change at Walmart TodayCan Rebuild America” showcases the stories of Walmart retail associates, customers, community members and those working in the company’s production and supply chains throughout the world. Our stories offer a more complete story that Walmart won’t tell. Now more than ever, we need to stick together and stand up to injustices when they come along. We may not be able to shut down a corporation, but banding together so that our voices are heard, is the first step.
|photo credit: rueters|