November 18, 2013 9:43 pm -

“Please donate food items so associates in need can enjoy Thanksgiving dinner,” reads the sign at a Cleveland-area Walmart store, in a sure sign the company, which raked in $15.7 billion in profit last year, really, really doesn’t get it. Walmart stores, notorious for paying low, low wages, apparently sees nothing wrong. The community and employees see it differently.

“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,” said [Norma] Mills, an organizer with Stand Up for Ohio, which is active in foreclosure issues in Canton. “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.”

Defending itself, Walmart points out that the collection bins are in an employee-only area and is a way for employees to care for each other. This effort is at a single location, which has apparently been doing this for several years, but seems to be in the same spirit as the nation-wide Associates in Critical Need Trust. The Trust is funded by employees through payroll deductions and is used to give grants of up to $1500 to employees experiencing hardship.

That’s just super, isn’t it? Whether it be a holiday food drive or a company-administered trust fund, Walmart is all about helping employees help other low-wage employees in times of need.  And that seems to be just about the extent of the company’s efforts to address the very real economic problems caused by its business model.

But an employee at the Canton store wasn’t feeling that Walmart was looking out for her when she went to her locker more than two weeks ago and discovered the food drive containers. To her, the gesture was proof the company acknowledged many of its employees were struggling, but also proof it was not willing to substantively address their plight. …

“Why would a company do that?” she said. “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.”

Amen, sister.

Sandi Behrns