Wednesday, July 20, 2011

AFL-CIO & UFCW Presidents Blast White House For Walmart Partnership

"Walmart's business model is subsidized on the backs of American taxpayers..."
UPDATE, July 21: A full post about the event is here.
Richard Trumka, President, AFL-CIO and Joseph T. Hansen, President, United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, put out the following statement today blasting the Obama Administration in response to First Lady Michelle Obama's announcement that Walmart, as well as other grocery market chains, have partnered with the White House in a new commitment to eliminate food deserts. Walmart is not a union employer, and today committed to building 275-300 stores in communities across the US by 2016, which it says will serve about 800,000 people, as well as create thousands of jobs.

Trumka and Hansen's statement:

We are honored that President Obama asked us to serve on his Council on Jobs and Competitiveness, charged primarily with rebuilding America's middle class by creating good jobs. America's working families urgently need leadership that will get Americans back to good jobs, paying taxes, spending in their communities and saving for retirement. The jobs crisis facing our nation threatens our long-term economic security, the strength and cohesion of our families and communities and our ability to compete successfully in the global economy.

Today's White House event, which highlights Walmart's expansion in urban areas, undercuts the message of the need for good jobs that can rebuild our middle class.

When Walmart opens in a community, it regularly displaces existing jobs with poverty-level jobs. Tens of thousands of Walmart associates qualify for and utilize food stamps, Medicare and Medicaid. In this time of budgetary stress, Walmart's business model is subsidized on the backs of American taxpayers.

There is no economic justification for our nation's largest private employer to pay wages so low that any of its employees qualify for public assistance. And there is no justification for highlighting a private employer with a business model based on suppressing wages for its 1.4 million hourly workers.

We call on the Administration to remain focused on the importance of a strong middle class and protecting and creating good jobs on the scale that is needed. We ask the Administration to stand with communities that have called on Walmart to strengthen the communities it enters rather than drive standards and wages down.


*The transcript of Mrs. Obama's remarks is here. A video of Walmart's Leslie Dach talking about the food desert commitment is here.

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