Fact Sheet on Wal-Mart: The Death Star of American Commerce

The Organic Consumers Association

Wal-Mart’s True Cost to Taxpayers

Because Wal-Mart fails to pay sufficient wages, U.S. taxpayers are forced to pick up the tab. In this sense, Wal-Mart’s profits are not only made on the backs of its employees-but on the [back] of every U.S. taxpayer.” Representative George Miller (CA)

The cost of a single Wal-Mart

    $36,000 a year for free and reduced lunches for just 50 qualifying Wal-Mart families
    $42,000 a year for Section 8 housing assistance, assuming 3 percent of the store employees qualify for such assistance, at 6,700 per family
    $125,000 a year for federal tax credits and deductions for low-income families, assuming 50 employees are heads of household with a child and 50 are married with two children
    $100,000 a year for additional Title I expenses, assuming fifty Wal-Mart families qualify with an average of two children
    $108,000 a year for the additional federal health care costs of moving into state children’s health insurance…assuming 30 employees with an average of two children qualifying
    $9,750 a year for the additional costs for low income energy assistance

Everyday Low Wages: The Hidden Price We All Pay for Wal-Mart, a report by the Democratic staff of the Committee on Education and the Workforce, U.S. House of Representatives, February 16, 2004

What Wal-Mart gets from your local, state, and federal tax dollars

    Free or reduced-price land
    Infrastructure assistance
    Tax-increment financing
    Property tax breaks
    State corporate income tax credits
    Sales tax rebates
    Enterprise-zone (and other zone) status

Good Jobs First, Walmarts’ U.S. Expansion has Benefited from More Than $1 Billion in Economic Development Subsidies

    Wal-Mart and food
    Wal-Mart started selling groceries in 1988 and 15 years later it is now the largest distributor of food in the world.
    Wal-Mart gets 68 cents of every food dollar spend in the United States, with 30 cents going to marketing, transportation and packaging. Farmers get 2 cents of every food dollar.
    For every one Supercenter that will open, two supermarkets will close.

Since 1992, the supermarket industry has experienced a net loss of 13,500 stores.

Fickes, Michael. “Big Boxers have big expansion plans.” Retail Traffic. 1 December 2002.

Wal-Mart and labor abuses

    Wal-Mart has racked up huge fines for child labor law violations. The rich company reportedly makes children younger than 18 work through their meal breaks, work very late and even work during school hours. Several states have found Wal-Mart workers younger than 18 are operating dangerous equipment, like chainsaws, and working in such dangerous areas as around trash compactors. (The New York Times, 1/13/04; The Associated Press, 2/18/05; The Hartford Courant, 6/18/05)
    By demanding impossibly low prices, Wal-Mart forces its suppliers to produce goods in low-wage countries that don’t protect workers. A worker in a Honduran clothing factory whose main customer is Wal-Mart, for example, sews sleeves onto 1,200 shirts a day for only $35 a week. (Los Angeles Times, 11/24/03)
    Wal-Mart has a shameful record of paying women less than men. Wal-Mart pays women workers nearly $5,000 less yearly than men. Some 1.6 million women are eligible to join a class-action lawsuit charging Wal-Mart with discrimination. (Richard Drogin, Ph.D., 2/03; Los Angeles Times, 12/30/04)

Wal-Mart and the environment

    In October 2004, the United States sued Wal-mart for violating the Clean Water Act in 9 states, calling for penalties of over $3 million and changes to W-M building codes. [U.S. v. Wal-Mart Stores Inc., 2004 WL 2370700]
    The United States Environmental Protection agency fined Wal-Mart $1 million, settling allegations that Wal-Mart violated the Clean Water Act with dirt discharges while building stores in Massachusetts, New Mexico, Okalahoma, and Texas. [Wal-MartLitigation.com]
    Wal-Mart was fined $765,000 for violating Florida’s petroleum storage tank laws at its automobile service centers. Wal-Mart failed to register its fuel tanks, failed to install devices that prevent overflow, did not perform monthly monitoring, lacked current technologies, and blocked state inspectors. [Associated Press, 11/18/04]
    The average supercenter attracts 3,315 car trips a day (Terrain magazine)
    A 250,000-square-foot supercenter with a 16-acre parking lot will produce 413,000 gallons of storm runoff for every inch of rain. Each year, such a lot would dump 240 pounds of nitrogen, 32 pounds of phosphorus, and 5 pounds of zinc into local watersheds while creating heat islands. (Terrain magazine)

Wal-Mart general facts

    Of the 100 most powerful economies in the world, Wal-Mart ranks #19
    In 2003, sales associates, the most common job in Wal-Mart, earned on average $8.23 an hour for annual wages of $13,861.The 2003 poverty line for a family of three was $15,260. [“Is Wal-Mart Too Powerful?”, Business Week, 10/6/03]
    Wal-Mart employs 1.2 million Americans. It is the largest employer in the United States.

This fact sheet was put together by the Organic Consumers Association