An Ohio Wal-Mart is holding a food drive for underprivileged families who can't afford Thanksgiving dinner, which seems like a noble enough venture, until you realize the collection box is for the store's own workers, who are apparently in need because Wal-Mart doesn't pay them enough.
As the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports, the collection reads simply "Please donate food items here so Associates in need can enjoy Thanksgiving Dinner." The photo is making the rounds via the union-backed group OUR Walmart, which has been organizing walk-outs and heightening pressure on the retailer to pay a living wage since a major round of strikes last Black Friday, followed by large-scale resistance in early September.
At any rate, the food drive is eerily well-timed for those pushing back against the retail giant. The National Labor Relations Board is reportedly about to announce that it will file charges against Wal-Mart for retaliating against striking or unionizing workers. ThinkProgress reports that the ruling may mean backpay or reversal of disciplinary action for workers. If nothing else, the food drive puts a dent in the company's own consistent claim that it pays competitive wages. Despite those longtime complaints, Kory Lundberg, a Wal-Mart spokesperson, touts the collection as evidence of the store's culture of caring, as he told the Cleveland Plain Dealer:
"It is for associates who have had some hardships come up," he said. "Maybe their spouse lost a job.
"This is part of the company's culture to rally around associates and take care of them when they face extreme hardships," he said.
Of course, the real way to "take care of" Wal-Mart associates, most of whom earn below $25,000 a year, would be to pay them enough that they don't need to turn to a collection plate to afford Thanksgiving. Maybe soon enough the massive retailer will follow McDonald's' lead and simply tell its workers to sign up for food stamps.
OUR Walmart, meanwhile, is organizing further strikes today in Cincinnati and Dayton, with more to follow on Black Friday.