Wal-Mart, Not a Place to Give Thanks | Nel’s New Day

http://nelsnewday.wordpress.com/2013/11/25/wal-mart-not-a-place-to-give-thanks/
In less than four days Wal-Mart opens its doors at 6:00 am on Thanksgiving day and stays open for 41 hours, trying to entice all the Black Friday shoppers into its stores. Almost 200,000 people have signed petitions protesting the new hours. If the company were not unfair to its 2.1 million workers, two-thirds of them in the United States, people might not be as upset. But the corporation has a reputation for paying its employees under the poverty level, an average of $8.81 per hour, and opposes any union structure.

Workers in 28 stores across 12 states went on strike, and a probe by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) is siding with the company’s labor force. Wal-Mart may have to rehire its fired workers because the company “unlawfully threatened employees with reprisal if they engaged in strikes and protests on November 22, 2012” and at other times. NLRB can also force Wal-Mart to tell workers of their rights to unionize.

Things are so bad at Wal-Mart that CEO Mike Duke quit this morning before tomorrow’s shareholders meeting.

Some Wal-Mart facts:

Wal-Mart employs more people than any other company in the United States outside of the federal government.
The majority of its employees with children live below the poverty line, and the children qualify for school free lunches.
One-third of the employees are part-time, limited to less than 28 hours per week and thus ineligible for benefits such as health care.
Employees make 25 percent less after two years at the job than their unionized counterparts working for other companies.
Employees take home on average under $250 per week.
Last year, only 18 percent of hourly workers received any pay raise at all.
When the United Food and Commercial Workers tried to organize workers across the country, labor experts were brought in for “coaching sessions” (aka intimidation sessions) with personnel who support unionization. Employees complained that these were intimidation sessions.
Full-time employees are eligible for benefits, but the employees are required to pay 35 percent of the health insurance package.
Not one in 50 workers has amassed as much as $50,000 through the stock-ownership pension plan although Wal-Mart matches 15 percent of the first $1,800 in stocks purchased. (Voting power for these stocks remains with Wal-Mart management.)
Over 85 percent of its goods are made outside the U.S. and often in sweatshops.
Musicians are frequently forced to create “sanitized” versions of their albums specifically for Wal-Mart.
Wal-Mart has forced many U.S. manufacturers out of business.
The company has been the primary distributor of many goods attracting controversy, including Kathie Lee Gifford’s clothing line, Disney’s Haitian-made pajamas, child-produced clothing from Bangladesh, and sweatshop-produced toys and sports gear from Asia.
In the U.S., Wal-Mart makes over $13,000 in pre-tax profits per employee (after paying them), which comes to more than 50 percent of the earnings of a 40-hour-per-week wage earner. At the same time, Wal-Mart costs taxpayers $5,815 per employee for food stamps, welfare, Medicaid, etc. That’s over $1.7 million per year for just one store. Wal-Mart has over 4,000 stores in the U.S.

The six Walton heirs together own as much wealth as 40 percent of the U.S. population. Last year, four members of the Wal-Mart family made a combined $20 billion from their investments. Less than half that would have increased the salary for each Wal-Mart worker by $3 an hour, enough to end the taxpayer contributions for these employees.

When Wal-Mart stores arrive, small businesses close, and employees in other stores have their wages lowered. An example is the experience of supermarket employees in Los Angeles: just the possibility of a Wal-Mart opening there dropped the pay scale markedly for new hires. After public opposition kept Wal-Mart stores from coming into most of L.A., the pay scale went back up.

Thirty years ago, Wal-Mart displayed “Buy America” and “Made in America” signs, but the marketing program was fraudulent. Even then, the corporation was shifting its purchasing to Asia. At the beginning of this year, the company declared that it would put $50 billion into buying domestic goods over the next decade. That’s really 1.5 percent of its expenditure on inventory.

Most of this $50 billion will go into its expansion in groceries. With Wal-Mart taking over the grocery business—25 percent of it at the beginning of the year—other grocers lose business and buy less. The result is no new jobs but lower wages for workers. In the past decade, Wal-Mart’s gross from groceries has increased from 24 percent in 2003 to its current 55 percent, and the company plans to take over more of the grocery share with its Neighborhood Market stores and new supercenters.

Georgia towel maker, 1888 Mills, will provide Wal-Mart with “American-made towels” but will maintain its overseas workforce of 14,000. The U.S. factory will add only 35 jobs at $12-$14 per hour.

Wal-Mart has often been compared to its competitor Costco which  offers its employees an average wage of $21.96 an hour, about 40 percent more than Wal-Mart employees make. Wal-Mart’s profits sank the second quarter of the year while Costco saw a 19-percent increase. There’s another company, however, that should be a model for Wal-Mart as it goes into the grocery business.

WinCo, a small privately-held chain of 100 supermarkets in western United States, manages to undercut Wal-Mart prices. And how?

It cuts out distributors and other middle “men” by buying many goods directly from farms and factories.
It doesn’t accept credit cards.
Customers bag their own groceries.
Stores are organized and minimalist without frills and a tremendous variety of merchandise.
Employees have decent health care benefits for those who work at least 24 hours a week.
Some of WinCo’s 400 nonexecutive workers, including cashiers and produce clerks, have pensions worth over $1 million because WinCo puts an amount equal to 20% of employees’ annual salary into a pension plan.
And WinCo is going to Texas, competing with Wal-Mart and offering lower prices.

During the recession, Wal-Mart cut employees hours so deeply that stores could not keep their shelves stocked causing customers to go elsewhere. In the past five years, the U.S. workforce dropped by 120,000 while the company opened 500 new stores. With longer check-outlines, backlogged inventory, and poor customer service, Wal-Mart will move 35,000 part-time workers to full-time and another 35,000 temps, who have to re-apply for their jobs every 180 days, to part-time.

The Affordable Care Act will require new full-time employees to get health insurance after 90 days instead of the usual six months. Workers still have to be employed an average of 30 hours a week for a year to get the benefits; most “associates” at Wal-Mart don’t have the opportunity to work this many hours. 

Food for thought as you schedule your shopping this week.

GOP Sabotages Affordable Care Act | Nel’s New Day

http://nelsnewday.wordpress.com/2013/11/21/gop-sabotages-affordable-care-act/
During the first four years of President Obama’s two terms, the GOP spent all their energy on keeping him from being re-elected. After that fruitless effort, they moved to repealing the Affordable Care Act—at least 46 times thus far. They plan to continue. A memo distributed to House GOP members, laid out the conservative strategy from closed-door sessions in mid-October called “House Republican Playbook”:

“Because of Obamacare, I Lost My Insurance.” [Response: zero people will to being uncovered.]
“Obamacare Increases Health Care Costs.” [Response: it’s actually the opposite.]
“The Exchanges May Not Be Secure, Putting Personal Information at Risk.”
“Continue Collecting Constituent Stories.”
The media has bombarded the public with conservative complaints about the entire health care because the website was not working and people were lying about their inability to get covered. There’s been nothing in the mainstream media about the GOP sabotage surrounding the ACA as they do anything to stop people from enrolling:

Blocking necessary resources for implementation
Public misinformation campaigns
Discouraging public-private partnerships
Blocking Medicaid expansion
Blocking CMS nominees
Refusal to create marketplaces
Prohibition of “Navigators” from doing their jobs
Dana Milbank explained the “logic” of the “Republicans’ scary-movie strategy”:

“If they can frighten young and healthy people from joining the health-care exchanges, the exchanges will become expensive and unmanageable. This is sabotage, plain and simple – much like the refusal by red-state governors to participate in setting up the exchanges in the first place.”

The difference between a lie and a falsehood is intent: knowing the truth and saying the opposite because the goal is deceit is lying. These are lies from GOP leaders intent on destroying a Democrat-passed law:

Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA): health care reform may lead to identity theft.
Speaker John Boehner (R-OH): “premiums are going right through the roof.”
Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) consumers who visit healthcare.gov may become victims of fraud. Caucus Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA): vulnerable constituents may be put “on the casualty list.”
Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) even claimed that she, personally, lost her health care coverage. It is true that she has to switch to the current program because of an amendment from Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA). But then she would lose it in another year anyway because she isn’t running for Congress.

Milbank added, “Let’s hope the new health-care plans have generous coverage for anti-anxiety medication.”

Kevin Drum wrote:

“No federal program that I can remember faced quite the implacable hostility during its implementation that Obamacare has faced. This excuses neither the Obama administration’s poor decisions nor its timidity in the face of Republican attacks, but it certainly puts them in the proper perspective.”

Because 27 states don’t have exchanges, uninsured residents are pushed into healthcare.gov. The GOP party leadership urged governors to not participate with the intent to burden the federal exchange.
The ACA had zero funding for the development and implementation of the site, and GOP Congressional members refused to authorize any money. The government paid $70 million for the website although the media lied about the cost, vastly increasing the guesstimate for its cost.
The Koch brothers through Americans for Prosperity funded advertising campaigns to make lawmakers block Medicaid expansion in Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Ohio, Louisiana, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Virginia. In the 26 states that did block this expansion, five to eight million people make too much money for Medicaid but too little money to afford exchange policies.
This week, Alaska’s governor Sean Parnell denied health insurance to 40,000 people in the state through his Medicaid rejection. He complained about the cost although the federal government pays for all Medicaid for the first three years. People denied health insurance through GOP actions are going to provide some of the “anecdotal evidence” that ACA doesn’t work; they—and the media doesn’t tell them—that GOP actions are denying them affordable health care. Foundation for Government Accountability, with funding traced to the Koch brothers, launched a campaign to stop Alaskans from buying insurance policies through two websites, along with accompanying Facebook pages: dontenrollalaska.org and knowthefactsalaska.org.
Billionaires are telling middle-class people to go without health care so that they can prove they hate the president. Sen. Angus King (I-ME) said:

“That’s a scandal – those people are guilty of murder in my opinion. Some of those people they persuade are going to end up dying because they don’t have health insurance. For people who do that to other people in the name of some obscure political ideology is one of the grossest violations of our humanity I can think of.”

Insurance companies are also participating in the anti-Obama, anti-health care campaign. Walmart-owned Humana sent customers threatening letters stating they had to decide, before people had access to information about ACA, whether to take the huge increase in health insurance cost or lose health insurance. Other companies canceled old plans to offer new ones at much higher prices. These insurance companies didn’t explain that the health care exchanges would give much lower costs for health insurance policies or that customers might be eligible for subsidies from the government.

Letters like these have nothing to do with the ACA. For years, insurance companies have sent letters trying to move people from reasonable deductibles to excessively high ones by threatening much higher premiums to keep the existing policy. As for increases, only federal law kept Blue Cross from increasing its charges by 43 percent in one year. The company is now being sued for misleading their customers. That’s the problem with private insurance companies: their sole goal is to make money off people who cannot afford their payments.

Beyond these issues, however, are serious hacking attacks on the ACA website, more than a dozen which are being investigated. In addition, there was a report of a tool designed to put heavy strain on HealthCare.gov through Distributed Denial of Service (DDOS). A program called “Destroy Obama Care,” first reported last week on a blog by Arbor Networks, was found on a “torrent” file sharing web page. If this tool were used, tens of thousands (or more) of computers will try to use the website over and over and over again automatically.

The GOP is determined to govern by anecdote, as they read aloud emails of unhappy constituents regarding access to health insurance. If this is an appropriate way to decide the legitimacy of a law, they need to listen to the other side.

During the first two weeks of November, almost 60,000 people signed up for private insurance policies or Medi-Cal (Medicaid) in California—more than twice as many people in October. Connecticut, Kentucky, Minnesota, and Washington are on track to exceed their enrollment targets. Washington enrolled over 50,000 people in Medicaid and another 6,000 in private plans. Glitches in the computer program have kept people in Oregon from signing up for private plans, but 70,000 people now have coverage from Medicaid. New York has almost 50,000 people signed up for health insurance through NY State of Health, about half of them in private plans. All these states are controlled by Democrats who are supporting the new reform. For example, only 3,000 have signed up for private plans in Texas, and the state isn’t expanding its Medicaid.

Before ACA, almost 50 million people in the United States had no health-care coverage; millions of others had “junk” policies that might not even provide hospitalization. And millions more paid more than they will under the ACA.

Many anecdotes on the media about the loss of health insurance have been debunked. If anyone complains about their being hurt by ACA, ask these four questions:

What does the old plan actually cover?
Did the person go to the exchanges?
What are the co-pays and deductibles?
Does the person qualify for subsidies?
And if the person complies with all these, then ask about the salary. People who make hundreds of thousands of dollars can afford higher rates. Think about Sen. Ted Cruz’s (R-TX) health insurance cost: it’s $40,000. Fortunately, his wife’s employer, Goldman Sachs, pays the tab.

Transgender Day of Remembrance | Nel’s New Day

http://nelsnewday.wordpress.com/2013/11/20/transgender-day-of-remembrance/

Fifteen years ago, Rita Hester, a young transgender woman was murdered in Allston (MA). This year alone, over 200 people were murdered from anti-transgender violence—that’s an average of four every week. In the United States, one person a week is murdered in an act of trans-gender violence. Not everyone murdered was not transgender: many of those people were seen by murderers as not “feminine” or “masculine” enough.

Today is the Transgender Day of Remembrance to commemorate those who have been murdered and a reminder of the need to fight and survive.

Mindy Townsend is carrying on the struggle for young people to survive by protesting anti-transgender policies in school:

“I’m almost 30, so I think I qualify as an adult. I need to ask you, from one adult to another, can we please stop laying our baggage on kids? Can we please agree to not do that anymore?

“I know that for decades, centuries even, we’ve been telling ourselves that boys act one way and girls act another and that boys and girls are the only two options. However, I really wish we could get over this misconception. At the very least, I wish we’d stop enforcing these misconceptions in schools.

skylar2_copy“The most recent instance of gender policing comes from Kansas, where a 13-year-old boy was suspended for carrying a purse. The student, Skylar Davis, had apparently been carrying this purse for months until a school official demanded that he put it away. According to Raw Story:

“After telling Assistant Principal Don Hillard that he wasn’t going to take the purse off, Davis’ mother, Leslie Willis, was called to pick him up.

“’I was a little furious, and I called the school [and spoke to Hillard] to reverify the story, and yeah, he refused to take off his Vera Bradley bag, nothing more to do it,’ Willis recalled to KCTV. ‘Skylar has been going to school since August with that same Vera Bradley bag on, hasn’t taken it off. What is the problem?’

“Willis added that there was no rule about purses in the school handbook.

“Davis pointed out that girls at the school never faced punishment for wearing their purses.

“For their part, the superintendent said that middle school students are forbidden from bringing bags to class and that this rule is enforced for both boys and girls.

“Color me skeptical that a girl would be suspended for carrying a purse. Maybe I’d believe it if this was the only time schools have been in the business of enforcing antiquated gender norms on unsuspecting kids. But it isn’t. Far from it.

“There is no indication of Davis’ sexuality or gender identity, and it doesn’t matter. However, the root of this potential discrimination is very similar if not identical to the discrimination LGBT students face from their schools every day. 

“Even though it’s 2013, gay, lesbian, bisexual and trans students are still systematically discriminated against at schools throughout the country. Private Christian schools in Georgia expel LGBT students and their allies as a matter of course, all while receiving millions of state dollars. A teen in North Carolina was only allowed to take his boyfriend to prom because an awesome mom intervened. A six-year-old girl was told by her Colorado school that she wouldn’t be allowed to use the appropriate bathroom. 

“But wait. There’s more. Remember how hard it was to get the Anoka-Hennepin school district to adopt an inclusive anti-bullying policy? And of course, we can’t forget that it’s OK in Texas to “out” gay students to their parents.

“I can’t go on. It’s bumming me out. But I think you get my drift. This is all about how people ‘should’ present themselves and behave. These are arbitrary standards that are changing all the time and, more importantly, they are absolutely meaningless. So a boy wants to carry a purse. So maybe a girl wants to date another girl. So maybe a kid’s gender doesn’t match his physical appearance. So what? Punishing kids for failing to fit into strict gender norms is only harmful.

“It tells kids that there is a narrow range of attributes that are acceptable. Not only does it sell children short, but it sells society short, as well. Who knows what kind of potential we’d discover these kids have if we could stop laying our gender baggage on their shoulders. We’re never going to find out if we keep forcing every individual into cookie cutter forms.”

To commemorate the Transgender Day of Remembrance, Jason Jackson and volunteers painted The Equality House in the colors of the transgender flag. Located across the street from the extremist anti-LGBT church, Westboro Baptist Church, the house is typically painted in rainbow colors.

transgender house

Designed by Monica Helms, the flag uses blue for baby boys, the pink for girls, and the white  “for those who are transitioning, those who feel they have a neutral gender or no gender, and those who are intersexed. The pattern is such that no matter which way you fly it, it will always be correct.”

Jackson is the founder of Planting Peace, working for equality for all. According to its website, “Our goal is to bring bully prevention programs into K-12 schools and to raise awareness about LGBTQ discrimination.”

Think Progress memorialized the day with a discussion of trans people in current pop culture. It’s well worth reading.

If 3 Little Girls Did This To My House, I’d Do Everything I Could To Get Them Full Rides To Stanford

If 3 Little Girls Did This To My House, I'd Do Everything I Could To Get Them Full Rides To Stanford.

Fewer than 3 in 10 graduates in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics are women. And barely 1 in 10 actual engineers are women. Early in a girl’s life, the toys marketed to her are usually things that don’t encourage her to enter those fields. GoldieBlox intends to change that by teaching them while they are young that these fields can be fun — and apparently epic, by the looks of this super-genius 2-minute video. Watch and learn.

If you like what GoldieBlox is doing to innovate for girls’ toys, you could Like them on Facebook. And if you want to see them win a chance at airing their commercial in the Super Bowl (instead of seeing another creepy GoDaddy ad), you could vote here. Just sayin’. And you could share this epicness if you think we need more girls interested in engineering. Totally your call though.

ORIGINAL: By GoldieBlox. If you’d like to see all the behind-the-scenes magic, you can check it out here. By the way, if you are planning to send your kids somewhere fancy, here’s all the best engineering schools. (The inventor and CEO of GoldieBlox, Debbie Sterling, totally went to Stanford to get her fancy engineering degree.)

The 10 Companies Paying Americans The Least: 24/7 Wall Street

The 10 Companies Paying Americans The Least: 24/7 Wall Street.

This summer, thousands of fast-food workers in the United States went on strike in cities across the country, demanding their wages be increased to $15 an hour and the ability to unionize. To no one’s surprise, they didn’t get it. As of 2012, an estimated 4.7% of hourly workers are paid at or below the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour. According to several groups, low- and minimum-wage workers are growing faster than any other group of earners.

Meanwhile, profits at many of the corporations that employ the most minimum-wage workers have risen. McDonald’s, Walmart and Target together employ several million Americans. While these companies’ profits have grown in recent years, most of their workers continue to earn low or minimum wages. 24/7 Wall St. identified the 10 companies that employ the most low- and minimum wage workers.

Companies that pay employees poorly fall into one of three industries: retailers such as Walmart and Sears, restaurant chains such as McDonald’s and Yum! Brands, and grocery stores such as Kroger. These industries are customer-facing and rely on a fleet low- and minimum-wage workers to take orders, stock clothing and goods and wait tables. “The service sector across the board — the retail and restaurant industries — those are the core of the low-wage labor market,” explained Jack Temple, policy analyst at the National Employment Law Project (NELP).

To reinforce the argument that the low wages these companies are paying are unfair, Temple points to the large compensations most of the chief executive officers at these companies receive. CEOs at nine of these 10 companies are paid more than $10 million annually, while Michael Duke and Howard Schultz, CEOs of Walmart and Starbucks, each receive more than $20 million per year.

Perhaps a fairer measure that may indicate whether a company can afford to increase its employees’ wages is the profitability of these companies. Net income in all but one of these companies has increased over the past five fiscal years. Kroger’s net income more than tripled since fiscal year 2008 to nearly $1.4 billion. Sears’ net income, on the other hand, has declined significantly during that time. The company recorded a net loss of $930 million this year.

Temple explained: “Low-wage companies have choices. They can continue making a lot of profits, and can continue paying their CEOs an incredible amount of money by paying low wages to their employees. But they have the resources to operate profitably and pay high wages as well.”

Based on the methodology used by the National Employment Law Project in its 2012 report “Big Business, Corporate Profits, and the Minimum Wage,” 24/7 Wall St. identified the 10 companies in industries that are primarily low-wage employers. Based on annual reports and proxy filings, we also reviewed the total size of the companies’ workforces, the recent performance of the corporations in terms of revenue and profit, and the highest executive pay at these companies. Included in our analysis were total U.S. employee figures, which we estimated when the figures were not provided by the company. In keeping with the NELP methodology, all employee figures represent systemwide employment, including employees of franchisees. To avoid double-counting low-wage workers, Starbucks is an exception, as many other low-wage employers are Starbucks licensees.

These are the companies paying Americans the least:

10. Starbucks
> U.S. workforce: 120,000
> CEO compensation: $28.9 million
> Revenue: $13.3 billion
> Net income: $1.4 billion
> No. of U.S. stores: 5,415/7,049/13,493

Starbucks Corp. (NASDAQ: SBUX) employs 120,000 workers across the United States. Howard Schultz, the company’s CEO, has become a billionaire by turning Starbucks from a small coffee retailer into one of the world’s most famous brands. Last year, Schultz took home nearly $29 million in total compensation. Schultz is often viewed as a progressive executive, due to his support of gay marriage and his request that customers not bring guns into Starbucks locations. In an interview with CNBC in March, Schultz cautiously supported a minimum wage hike. However, according to Glassdoor.com, baristas at Starbucks are paid an average of less than $9 an hour. Schultz has downplayed the relevance of these figures.

9. TJX Companies
> U.S. workforce: 138,211 (est.)
> CEO compensation: $21.8 million
> Revenue: $25.9 billion
> Net income: $1.9 billion
> No. of U.S. stores: 2,355

The TJX Companies Inc. (NYSE: TJX) operates Marshalls, TJ Maxx and HomeGoods in the United States. The company’s stores are off-price retailers, meaning they buy unsold inventory from manufacturers and other retailers and resell it at a discount. TJX’s sales have grown in the past four consecutive fiscal years as the retailer also boosted its operating profit margin. Despite the company’s success, sales associates at its stores earn less than $8 an hour on average, according to Glassdoor.com.

8. Macy’s
> U.S. workforce: 175,700
> CEO compensation: $13.8 million
> Revenue: $27.7 billion
> Net income: $1.3 billion
> No. of U.S. stores: 844

Annual revenue at Macy’s Inc. (NYSE: M) has risen slightly over the past four years, up from roughly $25 billion in 2008 to more than $27.7 billion at the end of its latest fiscal year. Macy’s, the second-largest department store in the United States, exceeded Wall Street’s expectations this past quarter, posting large increases in sales and earnings from the year before. Earlier this year, members of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union ratified a five-year agreement with Macy’s that should help protect the benefits of nearly 700 Macy’s employees in Maryland and Washington, D.C. According to Glassdoor.com, associates are paid under $9 an hour on average.

7. Darden Restaurants
> U.S. workforce: 203,389 (est.)
> CEO compensation: $6.4 million
> Revenue: $8.6 billion
> Net income: $412 million
> No. of U.S. stores: 2,105

Revenues at Darden Restaurants Inc. (NYSE: DRI), the parent company of chains such as Olive Garden and Red Lobster, rose from just $7.2 billion in 2009 to $8.6 billion in fiscal 2013. According to Morningstar’s analysis, operating margins have been some of the best in the industry in the past few years. Additionally, instead of raising wages, the company’s funds have been used effectively “to fund growth concepts and enhance total shareholder returns.” Yet the results have not been enough for investors, some of whom have pushed for the company to split and continue to cut costs faster. In 2013, Fortune named Darden one of the “100 Best Companies to Work For,” citing access to low-cost health insurance for part-time employees. Still, pay for many workers at Olive Garden and Red Lobster is frequently less than $10.00 per hour, according to Glassdoor.com. However, many of these employees may receive tips in addition to their base pay.

6. Sears Holdings
> U.S. workforce: 246,000
> CEO compensation: $1.3 million (Louis D’Ambrosio, former CEO)
> Revenue: $39.9 billion
> Net income: -$930 million
> No. of U.S. stores: 2,073

Sears Holdings Corp. (NASDAQ: SHLD), owner of both Sears and Kmart, is in heavy competition with other department stores. The median hourly wage for department store workers was just $9.83 in 2012. At Sears, sales associates averaged slightly more than $8 an hour, while cashiers averaged $7.70 per hour. Kmart offered similar pay to its workers as well, with 105 cashiers and 75 sales associates reporting to Glassdoor.com that their hourly wages were less than $8.00. However, Sears Holdings may not have the necessary ability to increase its employees’ pay. Sales have slipped in the past few years, plunging from $47.8 billion in fiscal 2008 to less than $40 billion in the most recent year. The company has also failed to post an operating profit in either of the past two full fiscal years.

5. Yum! Brands
> U.S. workforce: 694,712 (est.)
> CEO compensation: $14.2 million
> Revenue: $13.6 billion
> Net income: $1.6 billion
> No. of U.S. stores: 18,069

Yum! Brands Inc. (NYSE: YUM) CEO David Novak received more than $14 million worth of total compensation in the past fiscal year. The company’s revenue rose from $11.3 billion to $13.6 billion. Hourly wages for workers at its KFC, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell chains, however, are still often less than $8 an hour. Yum! Brands has continued to expand, opening more than five new restaurants a day outside the United States in 2012. However many American workers have expressed frustration that the company’s success has not led to an increase in their pay. This summer, fast-food workers at Yum! Brands and other fast-food chains staged protests across the country, demanding higher wages.

4. Kroger
> U.S. workforce: 343,000
> CEO compensation: $11.1 million
> Revenue: $96.8 billion
> Net income: $1.5 billion
> No. of U.S. stores: 2,418

The Kroger Co. (NYSE: KR) employs 343,000 workers in 2,418 stores across the country. The company operates stores under several names, including Kroger, City Market, Dillons and others. A majority of Kroger’s employees are covered by collective bargaining agreements between the company and different unions. In the past few months, Kroger has agreed to terms with unions covering thousands of workers in Virginia and Texas. Kroger’s net profit was $1.5 billion at the end of the most recent fiscal year.

3. Target
> U.S. workforce: 361,000
> CEO compensation: $20.6 million
> Revenue: $73.3 billion
> Net income: $3.0 billion
> No. of U.S. stores: 1,778

Target Corp. (NYSE: TGT) had 361,000 employees working at 1,778 stores in the United States at the end of 2012. The average listed salary on Glassdoor.com for a cashier or an employee on the Target sales floor is less than $9 an hour. In response to Target opening on Thursday, in advance of Black Friday, Target workers drafted a petition last year to “save Thanksgiving.” More than 300,000 people signed the petition. This year, Target stores will open on Thanksgiving Day at 8 p.m. That is an hour earlier than last year.

2. McDonald’s
> U.S. workforce: 739,055 (est.)
> CEO compensation: $13.8 million
> Revenue: $27.6 billion
> Net income: $5.5 billion
> No. of U.S. stores: 14,157

In the restaurant industry, the hourly median wage was just over $9.00 as of 2012. However, many McDonald’s Corp. (NYSE: MCD) employees are paid far less, with cashiers and crew members often earning only the minimum wage. In October, several McDonald’s employees were arrested for protesting their wages at the Union League Club of Chicago, where McDonald’s President Jeff Stratton was giving a speech. Between 2008 and 2012, sales and profit margins at McDonald’s have increased. Despite the company’s growth, employees are still hurting. All but admitting the low wages, McDonald’s encourages employees to enroll in food stamps and welfare programs.

1. Walmart
> U.S. workforce: 1.4 million
> CEO compensation: $20.7 million
> Revenue: $469 billion
> Net income: $17.0 billion
> No. of U.S. stores: 4,759

There are 1.4 million Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (NYSE: WMT) associates working at the company’s 4,759 U.S. stores. Walmart recently announced it would launch Black Friday sales at 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day. Critics of Walmart see this as adding insult to injury — forcing retail workers who already earn low wages to cut holidays short. Criticisms like these have been part of an onslaught of claims that Walmart underpays its workers. Walmart disagrees, saying that “for tens of thousands of people every year, a job at Walmart opens the door to a better life.” According to the company, a full-time hourly wage is $12.83. Some argue that the company’s number is inflated, however, reflecting the salaries of higher-paid employees. Hourly wages for sales associates are less than $9.00, according to Glassdoor.com. Walmart’s net income rose to $17 billion last year.

By Michael B. Sauter, Thomas C. Frohlich and Alexander E.M. Hess

Read more: Ten Companies Paying Americans the Least – Wal-Mart Stores (NYSE:WMT) – 24/7 Wall St. http://247wallst.com/special-report/2013/11/15/ten-companies-paying-americans-the-least/#ixzz2kuuIwjn0
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