The Scam that Stole Thanksgiving

Julianne Malveaux | 11/28/2012, 12:22 p.m.

When Walmart employees speak out there is retaliation. They are fired, or their hours are cut back. They very swiftly get the message that speaking out will be punished. Too many silently seethe at unfair policies; too dependent on the little pay they get to raise their voices.

This is why the Making Change at Walmart campaign is so important. It challenges the notion that economic growth is dependent on the exploitation of workers, and suggests, instead, that paying people a living wage is a way to grow a stable and secure workforce.

Walmart is not the only company that prefers to pay its workers on a part-time basis. Many fast-food operations do the same thing, varying hours each week so that workers have no way of knowing when they will work. This means they have difficulty arranging for childcare with these variable hours. Of course, that this does not concern their employers. They are more interested in their bottom line, profits.

Many who are aware of the labor exploitation at Walmart say that their prices and deals are unbeatable, and with their money tight they have no choice but to seek the best bargains they can find. Yet the price of the great deals is exploitation of another worker.

Julianne Malveaux is a Washington, D.C.-based economist and writer. She is President Emerita of Bennett College for Women in Greensboro, N.C.