This week, there was a critical secret election and its results will have wide ranging domestic and international consequences. It will directly impact the lives of millions and will affect billions.
What election say you?
Well, here it is—on Monday Walmart elected a new CEO.
Well, to be clear, the Board of Directors at Walmart elected a new CEO. Something tells me that the workers on whom Walmart depends to earn its vast profits might have selected someone different.
But the board picked a young up and comer named Doug McMillon.
Why is this important? Well, Walmart is the single largest private employer in America. So as the Walmart worker goes, so goes America—and unfortunately things ain’t going so hot for the Walmart worker.
In fact, the average Walmart employee makes only $8.81 per hour. Walmart pays its employees so little that taxpayers must subsidize Walmart wages by about $1 million per supercenter.
Taxpayers foot the bill so Walmart can underpay its workforce. And Walmart’s massive size has huge ripple effects across our economy. One study found that Walmart’s presence meant not only low wages for their workers but low wages for all retail workers in the region.
Walmart’s existing corporate strategy is to pay the lowest wages possible in order to charge the lowest prices possible and, since their wages are so low, their workers can only afford to shop at Walmart leading to a downward spiral in which the whole country suffers.
But, call me crazy, I’ve got high hopes for Walmart’s new CEO Doug McMillion to right the ship!
Sure he’s currently the head of Walmart International, a division that’s been beset by charges of massive and aggressive corruption in Mexico. But hey, that was before Doug’s time there! And sure, under Doug’s watch, Walmart blocked key safety precautions in Bangladesh and then refused to compensate victims of a factory fire who were manufacturing Walmart clothes in the unsafe conditions that Walmart insisted on but…nobody’s perfect.
Ok, so maybe appealing to Doug’s heart strings isn’t the way to go.
Instead, let me speak to Doug in terms he is more likely to understand, the bottom line. There is a limit to Walmart’s low wage, low price downward spiral strategy and we seem to be approaching that limit.
Bloomberg News has already reported that Walmart’s refusal to hire workers and treat them decently has led to deteriorating conditions at their U.S. stores with frustrated shoppers and poorly stocked shelves . As a possible result, Walmart’s U.S. stores are suffering with declining sales and Walmart is forecasting a flat holiday season.
Doug should also be pretty concerned that at some point, people are not going to be psyched about Christmas shopping in a place that hardly embraces the holiday spirit. And the National Labor Relations Boards recent finding that Walmart fired and harassed workers trying to stand up for themselves doesn’t exactly make me or anyone else want to deck the halls with Walmart holly.
So yeah, I’ve got high hopes for Doug. Not because I think he’s going to have an Ebenezer Scrooge-like Christmas morning pro-worker conversion, but because I think we can convince him that treating workers well is good business. Just to be sure he gets my message though, I’ll be supporting Walmart workers this week at a DC area Black Friday protest. We’ll have coverage from that event next week. I hope you’ll consider welcoming Doug, supporting Walmart workers, and supporting working people everywhere by doing the same.
Krystal Ball will be answering your questions about Walmart in a live Q&A on Tuesday, December 3rd at 4 p.m. EST in the msnbc Cyclists group! Start leaving your questions in the comments on this story in the msnbc Cyclists group, and Krystal will answer them on Tuesday! Make sure you’ve joined the group here.