Walmart Asks Employees to Donate Food for other (Underpaid) Employees

Wednesday, November 20, 2013
(photo: OUR Walmart)

An Ohio Walmart is asking its underpaid employees to donate food so their struggling coworkers might enjoy a Thanksgiving dinner.


The store on Atlantic Boulevard in Canton put out plastic bins in an employees-only area with the sign: “Please donate food items here so Associates in Need can enjoy Thanksgiving Dinner.”


The in-store food drive was described as “another element in the backdrop of the public debate about salaries for cashiers, stock clerks and other low-wage positions at Walmart, as workers in Cincinnati and Dayton are scheduled to go on strike,” Olivera Perkins wrote for the Cleveland Plain Dealer.


The newspaper interviewed one local resident, Norma Mills, who said she felt “anger” after learning what Walmart was doing.


“Then I went through the emotion of compassion for the employees, working for the largest food chain in America, making low wages, and who can’t afford to provide their families with a good Thanksgiving holiday,” Mills, an organizer with Stand Up for Ohio, which is active in foreclosure issues in Canton, told the Plain Dealer. “That Walmart would have the audacity to ask low-wage workers to donate food to other low-wage workers—to me, it is a moral outrage.”


A Walmart spokesman, Kory Lundberg, said the food drive demonstrated that company workers care about each other.


“It is for associates who have had some hardships come up,” he told the newspaper. “Maybe their spouse lost a job.”


“This is part of the company’s culture to rally around associates and take care of them when they face extreme hardships,” Lundberg added.


But not all Walmart workers agree with that. One longtime Canton store employee—who requested her name not be used for fear of being fired—found the Walmart campaign “demoralizing” and “kind of depressing.”


“Why would a company do that?” OUR Walmart strike organizer Vanessa Ferreira said to the Plain Dealer. “The company needs to stand up and give them their 40 hours and a living wage, so they don't have to worry about whether they can afford Thanksgiving.”


Canton store associate Erica Reed countered that a past Walmart food drive helped when her ex-husband went to jail and stopped sending child support payments for their four children. “It took a burden off me,” she told the newspaper. “I didn't have to worry about how I was getting my turkey to feed them Thanksgiving dinner.”

-Noel Brinkerhoff, Danny Biederman


To Learn More:

Is Walmart's Request of Associates to Help Provide Thanksgiving Dinner for Co-Workers Proof of Low Wages? (by Olivera Perkins, Cleveland Plain Dealer)

Walmart Store Holding Thanksgiving Charity Food Drive -- For Its Own Employees! (by Rick Ungar, Forbes)

6 Members of Wal-Mart Family Have More Money than Poorest 90 Million Americans (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)


JayCee 10 years ago
Walmart is not doing this. It was an employee initiative. Norma Mills, Walmart shopper and community organizer for Stand Up For Ohio who is pressing for what she calls a living wage in Canton supplies her photo of the food drive bins in an employees-only area to the media and remarkably Within hours of the Wal-Mart photo appearing, the president of Canton City Council cited it in calling for the city to raise its minimum wage above Ohio's $7.85 an hour.
Richard 10 years ago
I think it is great that people are willing to help each other out. It is good that it happens, because Walmart Corp doesn't seem to be offering any help. The company PR flak's claim that it reflects the Walmart culture is just so much BS. It this kind of thing is an example of Walmart's culture, it tells me the culture is "Our employees have to look out for each other. The company doesn't have time to do that because the owners, executives, and management are too busy screwing with them."

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