[This letter was individually sent to all 17 members of the Walmart Board of Directors]

March 19, 2013

Dear Board member,

I am writing to you today to urge Walmart’s support in raising the federal minimum wage, which has remained stagnant at $7.25 since 2009. The minimum wage in 1968, if adjusted for inflation, would be $10.50 today. Considering the fact that worker productivity has doubled since 1968, Walmart employees are worth far more than they are currently being paid.

About one million Walmart workers currently make between $7.25 and $10.50 per hour. Raising your workers’ wages to a $10.50 per hour minimum—catching up to the 1968 minimum wage, inflation adjusted—would cost your company less than $2 billion—a relatively small fraction of your total U.S. sales of more than $313 billion. A minimum wage of $10.50 per hour would mean fewer Walmart workers would have to rely on government relief. A minimum wage of $10.50 per hour would also surely mean a lesser rate of employee turnover. And there are benefits—where are the majority of Walmart’s minimum wage employees likely to spend much of their extra money? Walmart, of course.

Costco, one of your chief competitors, has already taken the lead on this issue—Costco CEO Craig Jelinek has gone on the record saying he supports a minimum wage of over $10. Costco starts their workers at $11.50 per hour. It should be noted that recently released sales figures show big growth for Costco, whereas Walmart’s sales are slowing. Clearly the strategy of paying workers a fair wage is resulting in a more profitable and stable company and a productive workforce with better word-of-mouth and positive public relations.

If Walmart were to throw their support behind raising the minimum wage to catch up with 1968, it would benefit the economy, it would benefit thirty million American workers who have suffered under a stagnant minimum wage, and it would, ultimately, benefit Walmart as well.

I have written two letters to your CEO, Mike Duke, asking for his support in this matter. I have yet to hear back from him. In one of the letters, I ended with a quote from Henry Ford, which I will include here as well:

“If you cut wages, you just cut the number of your own customers. If an employer does not share prosperity with those who make him prosperous, then pretty soon there will be no prosperity to share. That is why we think it is good business always to raise wages and never to lower them. We like to have plenty of customers.”

Sincerely,
Ralph Nader