Close on the heels of an unprecedented sit-down strike at Walmart in Los Angeles, a coalition of labor and community organizations will join the growing nationwide movement for a living wage and full-time work at America’s largest private employer, with strikes set to paralyze company stores on Black Friday.
Coalition members will be among tens of thousands of people demonstrating at more than 2,200 Walmart locations across the country and calling for a minimum wage of $15 an hour for Walmart workers; access to consistent, full-time work; and an end to gender discrimination in regard to pay and promotions.
In one protest in Northern California, the local organizations—among them the North Bay Jobs with Justice alliance, Unite Here Local 2850, the North Bay Labor Council and the Sonoma County chapter of the National Organization for Women—will advocate for the right of Walmart workers to organize and will oppose the proposed expansion of a Walmart store in the city Rohnert Park.
On Nov. 14, the day after Walmart workers participated in an unheard-of sit-down strike at two Los Angeles store locations, the Organization United for Respect at Walmart, a group of Walmart employees backed by the United Food and Commercial Workers union, called for a nationwide strike against the retailer on November 28.
Black Friday 2014 will mark the third year in a row Walmart employees around the country have walked off the job during the biggest shopping day of the year.
OUR Walmart has pointed to the company’s implementation of a new scheduling system to pick up open shifts and its public commitment to raise the wages of its lowest paid employees as signs that its mobilizations are already having on impact on the country’s largest retailer.
Meanwhile, Isaiah J. Poole reports at Campaign for America's Future:
Walmart avoids paying on average $1 billion a year in federal taxes through aggressively exploiting tax loopholes – and it has an army of lobbyists working on cutting its tax bill by at least another $720 million, according to a report released today by Americans for Tax Fairness.
The report notes that Walmart pays an effective tax rate of 29 percent on the profits from its domestic retail operations, significantly below the statutory corporate tax rate of 35 percent. Further, Walmart has $21.4 billion in profits parked offshore on which it is paying no U.S. taxes at all.
Walmart cuts its tax bill through using a variety of means, the report said, including a provision in the tax code that allows for “accelerated depreciation” of capital expenses. That was a provision Congress added to the tax code after the 2008 recession to encourage business spending, and was intended to be temporary as long as the economy was in recession. But business lobbyists, including those employed by Walmart, are trying to get accelerated depreciation made permanent as part of a package of “tax extenders” now awaiting action in the lame-duck session of Congress.
Accelerated depreciation allows corporations to write off the value of their investments much faster than the useful life of the investment. It is, in effect, a tax subsidy for business purchases, and Walmart could use the write-off for anything from delivery trucks to corporate planes.
The report notes that Walmart has employed 74 lobbyists to advance its tax-cutting agenda. Twenty-six of those lobbyists are working on the tax-extenders issue alone. Walmart’s lobbyists are also leading the effort to get the top corporate tax rate lowered from 35 percent to 25 percent, which would shave an additional estimated $720 million off its tax bill annually. Another top priority is pushing a shift to a territorial tax system. Instead of paying taxes on the profits it earns overseas, minus the taxes it pays to the countries where those profits are earned, Walmart under a territorial system would owe no U.S. taxes at all on profits earned outside of the U.S. That would give Walmart an incentive to shift as much of its operations outside of the U.S. as possible – a tactic already used by many non-bricks-and-mortar-retail multinational corporations, which funnel profits generated through intellectual property or capital flows through overseas entities.
“American consumers flock to Walmart because of its low prices – what they don’t know is that this comes at a high cost,” the report says. The $1 billion that Walmart avoids paying in taxes means $1 billion for national needs that is on the backs of working Americans instead – including Walmart’s financially strapped customers. And that is on top of the estimated $6 billion that taxpayers spend each year on public assistance to Walmart employees because of their rock-bottom wages and nearly absent benefits.
It’s one more way Walmart’s much-ballyhooed low prices are not a bargain. Those prices mean lost American jobs, poverty wages for many of the jobs that remain, and a massive shift of the federal tax burden down to Walmart’s base of consumers. It we really wanted to take up Walmart’s admonition to “live better,” we’d end Walmart’s tax evasion games and make all corporations pay their fair share.
And elsewhere, Joshua Holland reports for BillMoyers.com:
Around this time last year, the story of a Canton, Ohio, Wal-Mart running a food drive to help its impoverished “associates” get through the holidays became the symbol of how hard it is to make ends meet working for the country’s largest private employer.
Today, Making Change at Wal-Mart, a labor-backed group working to expose the mega-retailer’s exploitative labor practices, posted this on its Facebook page:
The text accompanying the picture reads in part:
"Despite a massive backlash last year when news broke that Walmart was holding an in-store canned food drive asking workers to donate to one another to keep from going hungry, Walmart hasn’t changed its ways. An Oklahoma Walmart is running another food drive this year!"
A spokeperson for the group told BillMoyers.com via email that the picture was taken recently by an employee who wished to remain anonymous. The location of the food bin was identified as the Wal-Mart “superstore” designated by the company as #3430 and located on NE 23rd Road in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
Meanwhile, as Wal-Mart’s low-wage workers are helping each other out with food donations, the Waltons themselves, whose combined wealth is equal to that of the bottom 42 percent of American households, ”have contributed almost none of their personal fortune” to their family’s charitable foundation, according to an analysis of 23 years of tax returns conducted earlier this year by Making Change at Wal-Mart.
According to the report, the Waltons use their family’s foundation primarily to avoid paying their fair share of taxes.
Tax avoidance appears to be a family passion. A study released today by Americans for Tax Fairness finds that over the past five years, Wal-Mart, Inc., has used a variety of tax loopholes to cut its tax bill by an average of $1 billion per year.
What’s more, Wal-Mart is spending heavily to change the tax code so the company can cut what it pays Uncle Sam by another $720 million per year:
"Walmart is working to influence tax legislation in three ways – through lobbying, campaign contributions and issue advocacy via major corporate coalitions. Walmart employs 74 lobbyists – 80 percent of whom have previously served in government – and it has spent $32.6 million lobbying on tax and other issues over the past five years. Tax issues have been by far Walmart’s top lobbying focus."
The study reports that the company is also sheltering $21.4 billion in profits offshore — profits that, as tax journalist David Cay Johnston explained recently, represent a nice little “profit center” for multinationals like Wal-Mart, courtesy of the American government.
But while the company doesn’t like paying taxes, its shareholders, including the Walton family, enjoy having their profits subsidized by others who don’t enjoy armies of accountants working full time to cut their tax bills. According to the Americans for Tax Fairness study, Joe and Jane Taxpayer pick up $6.2 billion per year for Wal-Mart’s underpaid workers in the form of public benefits — food stamps, Medicaid and other assistance for the poor.
As we’ve said before, it’s low-wage employers like Wal-Mart that represent the real “welfare queens” in this country. It’s the Walton heirs — winners of the childbirth lottery — and their fellow investors who live in luxury on the taxpayers’ dime.