Walmart does not want to give workers in the Capitol any say on how much they will be paid, or on anything else for that matter, but grassroots organisations are building an alternative economic approach, grounded in democracy.
Surely the six new stores, will bring good jobs to DC, at a time when jobs are hardly growing on trees, right? One in ten are out of work in Washington (and more like one in six African Americans) and people are crying out for more jobs.
Well, one problem is that Walmart has refused calls by many in DC to guarantee it will pay a “living wage” to its workers. Instead, they have said they will pay these famous “competitive, market salaries”. Who decides what level is competitive? Well, I’ll give you a clue, it’s not the local community, and it’s not the workers.
Even the promise to pay market salaries might not be as firm as Walmart is making out. The company has signed a “Community Partnership Initiative”, in which they make a number of pledges. All of these are “subject and contingent upon business conditions”. Who decides whether business conditions mean any of these commitments can be broken or watered down? Again, I’ll give you a clue, it’s not the workers, it’s not the local community, hell it’s not even the DC government.
This might not be too easy. Walmart is one of the biggest companies in the world. How can shop workers and residents hold Walmart to account? Well, they might try and form a Union, but we all know Walmart’s track record in breaking unions.
In fact, we might start to believe that Walmart is not too keen on being held to account by anyone, not by it’s workers, not by the city government and not by the local community.