15 Old House Lane
Chappaqua, NY 10514
April 22, 2014
Dear Hillary Clinton,
As First Lady, Senator, Secretary of State, and in your recent work with the Clinton Global Initiative, you have advocated for the cause of women’s empowerment around the world. Today we write to ask you to also join us in an important women’s empowerment initiative here at home. It involves an area to which you have a special connection and thus presents you, specifically, with an important responsibility to make a direct difference in the lives of hundreds of thousands of American women and an indirect difference in millions more.
The Walmart Corporation is the largest employer in the United States, employing about one in every hundred Americans. Unfortunately, America’s largest employer sets a horrible example with its miserly wage policy. Walmart pays hundreds of thousands of their workers less per hour, adjusted for inflation, than minimum wage workers made 46 years ago. With rising housing, health and transportation costs, Walmart workers cannot make ends meet on less than $10, $9 or even, for some, $8 an hour. The cashiers and hourly sales associates at the White Plains Walmart close to your house, for example, live in a city with a living wage of as estimated by the MIT Living Wage Calculator $13.05, but most hourly Walmart workers are paid thousands of dollars per year below that standard. It’s no surprise that one Walmart manager even admitted this disconnect between Walmart pay and fair pay by placing a bin out last holiday season to solicit donations from customers for his own needy workers.
Seventy percent of the positions subject to Walmart’s hourly poverty wage regime are held by women. Most of these women are managed by men, who despite making up a minority of the company’s employees make up a majority of Walmart’s managers and officials. Irregular schedules and a miserly sick day policy make Walmart a difficult place for mothers to work. Take as an example one 33yearold mother of two featured on ABC News a few years ago: she had to leave her daughter
at home with a 103degree fever because she was worried about her three sick day “demerits” issued
by her Walmart manager. Worse over, Walmart’s poverty wage regime drives down the wages and benefits of neighboring stores, again disproportionately hurting women, who make up the majority of the lowwage workforce in America.
Walmart could end this assault on their female “associates” by paying all their workers at
least $10.92, which is the inflationadjusted wage that the lowest paid Walmart workers under their
founder, Sam Walton earned in the late 1960’s. Before Walton’s billionaire heirs cry ‘Impossible!’, remember: (1) Walmart pays all their workers in Ontario, Canada and Santa Fe, New Mexico over
$10 an hour and still remains quite profitable; (2) Walmart had enough funds to issue $51 billion in stock buybacks over the past five years, which could have given every American Walmart worker a $3.50
per hour raise over the past five years; and (3) a 2011 U.C. Berkeley economic study showed that even if Walmart raised its starting wage to $12 and passed all the costs onto customers, it would only cost Walmart shoppers 46 cents more per shopping trip.
In 1986, when Bill Clinton was governor of Arkansas, you reflected a single case of women’s empowerment at Walmart by becoming Walmart’s first female director. During your six years as a Walmart board member, you honorably pushed for women’s empowerment. Twenty eight years later, we are asking you to make far broader history again for women at Walmart by publicly pressuring your former board to end its poverty wage regime and restore the wages of hundreds of thousands of its female associates.
Here are four ways you can immediately activate your deep Walmart ties to help this important feminist cause:
1. Publicly encourage former Walmart CEO H. Lee Scott, who had dinner at your home in 2006, to build on his minimum wage raise support from nine years ago by urging his successor C. Douglas McMillon to follow in his footsteps by endorsing a minimum wage raise this year.
2. Publicly encourage Alice Walton, the Walmart heiress who donated $25,000 to Ready for Hillary last year, to use her power as a major shareholder to force a raise in the wages of the hundreds of thousands of Walmart associates who make less in a year of work than Walton does in 10 minutes from interest on her inheritance.
3. Publicly encourage Clinton administration advisor Leslie Dach, who you have worked with on labor issues recently, to leverage his role as a former Walmart executive vice president to pressure his successors to end Walmart’s poverty wage regime.
4. Publicly encourage Walmart director Aida Alvarez, who campaigned for you and was your husband’s final Small Business Administration leader, to coordinate with other social justiceminded Walmart directors such as former Detroit mayor Dennis Archer and civil rights activist Vilma Martinez to end Walmart’s poverty wage regime.
Campaign funders like Alice Walton might be ‘Ready for Hillary’ to run for President in 2016, but Walmart’s women have been ‘Ready for Hillary’ to stand up for the wages they deserve this year. It would be a shame to have your trailblazing legacy of Walmart women empowerment rolled back. We
hope you can keep it alive by pressuring your former Walmart colleagues to raise the wages of its predominantlyfemale hourly workforce to $11, their inflationadjusted 1968 level. This is no big deal: the workers have more than earned an $11 per hour wage, had it taken from them by inflation year after year, and will continue to until they can catch up with 1968, inflation adjusted.
Consumer and Labor Advocate Washington, DC
The Southern Labor Studies Association Williamsburg, VA
Georgia Women for a Change Atlanta, GA
Professor of Political Science University of Pennsylvania
Chair, Department of Feminist Studies University of California, Santa Barbara
C. Robert McDevitt
UNITE HERE Local 54, Atlantic City
Ken FonesWolf Professor of History West Virginia University
Time for a Raise Campaign Washington, DC
Maine Women’s Lobby Augusta, ME
Author of To Serve God and WalMart University of Georgia
Michael Pierce Professor of History University of Arkansas
Deborah Burger President
National Nurses United
Elizabeth FonesWolf Professor of History West Virginia University
Georgia Women for Change, Inc.
Professor of History
President, Southern Labor Studies Association William and Mary
Director, Center for the Study of Work, Labor and Democracy
University of California, Santa Barbara
Chair, Department of History William and Mary
City University of New York Labor School
Professor of History and International Affairs George Washington University
University of Illinois at Chicago
Jamie McCallum Professor of Sociology Middlebury College
Chang Kwan Lee
Executive Director Maine Women’s Lobby
President, The Center for the Study of Class, Labor, and Social Sustainability
Jacob Remes Lecturer on History Harvard University
Anthony DeStefanis Assistant Professor of History Otterbein University
Margaret Nelson Professor of Sociology Middlebury College
Professor of Labor Studies and History Penn State
Karen Senaga Mississippi State
Professor of Government St. Lawrence University
Professor of Sociology UCLA
Cindy Hahamovitch Professor of History William and Mary
Professor of Sociology Loyola University, Chicago
Professor of History University of North Carolina
Paula Peinovich National Labor College
University of WisconsinMadison
Professor of Philosophy William and Mary
Walakewon Blegay Labor Attorney
Liz Kofman UCLA
Professor of Sociology UCLA
David Zonderman Professor of History NC State University
Professor of Labor Studies and Sociology University of Massachusetts, Amherst
Lou Martin Professor of History Chatham University
DC Jobs with Justice Exec. Committee Washington, D.C.
Gillet Rosenblith University of Virginia
Director of Strategic Research International Union of Painters and Allied Trades
Penn State Law National Writers Union
Marsha Love Oak Park, IL
John McKiernanGonzalez Assistant Professor History Texas State University
Assistant Professor of History Hood College
Associate Professor of History Tulane University
Professor of Anthropology University of New Orleans
Associate Professor of Women and Gender Studies