With about 1.4 million associates, Walmart is the nation’s largest private-sector employer. The wages it pays set the benchmark for the rest of the retail sector. In most states, associates earn an average of $12 or $13. (In Alabama, for example, associates earn an average of $12.53). Annualized, that comes out to about $25,000, which is barely above the poverty level for a family of four (PDF). Walmart critics dispute these numbers. A report by IBISWorld—an independent market-research group—states that the average Walmart’s associate makes $8.81 per hour. That translates to only $15,576 a year for full-time workers.
So it’s not surprising that Walmart has become a target for critics of low wages. In July, for example, the Washington, D.C., City Council passed a measure that seemed aimed at keeping Walmart out—unless it agreed to raise wages sharply.
One of the most adamant grillers of Walmart recently has been The Nation, the venerable left-leaning political and cultural magazine. The Nation recently posted an open letter to company CEO Mike Duke and the Walmart board of directors demanding that Walmart start paying its workers a minimum wage $12 an hour. The letter also includes an online petition that readers can sign.
Walmart is clearly growing tired of being a punching bag and poster child for low wages. So on Wednesday morning, Steven Restivo, a senior director of communications at Walmart, sent out a snarky email directed at The Nation under the subject line: “people who live in glass houses…”
The Nation—“America’s leading progressive print and online magazine”—recently encouraged its readers to sign an open letter demanding that Walmart increase wages to $12/hour and this article called our company one of the “biggest abusers of low-wage labor.”
In an ironic twist, ProPublica recently reported that starting this fall, “interns at the Nation Institute will be paid minimum wage for the first time in the history of the 30-year-old program.” As ProPublica noted, The Nation has been paying its full-time interns a weekly stipend of $150 per week—less than the current federal minimum wage rate of $7.25 per hour.
Tulsans may remember the story “Tulsa’s Shame” in the Nation that blamed the 1921 Race War on Republican Conservatives mentioning then U.S. Rep. Steve Largent. Of course historians and credible journalist know there were very few, if any, Republicans in Oklahoma (and none holding office) at the time of the Race War, but truth has never stopped what Tulsa Today considers a low lying leftist, if not communist, rag.