July 20, 2011
Joint Statement by AFL-CIO Pres. Richard Trumka and UFCW Pres. Joseph Hansen on White House Walmart Event
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.