“Throw Them Some Pennies” – Letter to C. Douglas McMillon

C. Douglas McMillon
CEO, Walmart
702 SW 8th St
Bentonville, AR 72716

October 16, 2014

Dear Mr. McMillon,

After this week’s announcement that Walmart will no longer pay a couple thousand of its workers the exact minimum wage, perhaps we should retire Marie Antoinette’s idiom “Let them eat cake!” and replace it with C. Douglas McMillon’s “Throw them some pennies!”

In response to years of pressure to end your poverty wage regime, this is a cynical and disingenuous tactic. You know that the problem has never been specifically that you pay 6,000 of your workers the exact minimum wage, but rather that you pay hundreds of thousands of your employees less per hour than all Walmart
made 46 years ago, when the minimum wage was $10.92 in today’s dollars.

You say you want to “invest in your associate base,” but the only associates you appear to be investing in are your multi­millionaire associates. You sure invested in your shareholder associates, spending $51 billion in excess capital on stock buybacks. You sure invested in your executive associates, taking in $12,307 per hour
in executive compensation, meaning that by noon on your first day back from New Years, you had already made more in wages than your associates were going to make from toiling in your stores for the entire year. But when studies have shown that it would take ­­ if all costs were passed to the consumer ­­ only 47 cents per customer per trip to raise all Walmart wages to $12, your workers can no longer take you seriously when you say you are trying to “invest in your associate base.”

In response to workers’ demands for a liveable wage, you can continue down the Antoniette route and keep coming out with “throw them some pennies!” obfuscation. Or you can follow the leadership of your fellow retail colleagues ­­ like Craig Jelinek of CostCo. or Kip Tindell of the Container Store ­­ who responded to demands for more liveable wages by ­­ lo and behold ­­ paying more liveable wages!


Ralph Nader
P. O. Box 19312
Washington, D.C. 20036