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Sign asking workers at a Canton, Ohio, Walmart to donate food
Sign attached to food donation boxes in an employees-only area of a Canton, Ohio, Walmart.
Food donation boxes are a common holiday-season sight in supermarkets. Boxes for store employees to donate food for other store employees in need? That's more of a surprise, but it's exactly what can be found in a Canton, Ohio, Walmart:
"Please Donate Food Items Here, so Associates in Need Can Enjoy Thanksgiving Dinner," read signs affixed to the tablecloths.

The food drive tables are tucked away in an employees-only area. They are another element in the backdrop of the public debate about salaries for cashiers, stock clerks and other low-wage positions at Walmart, as workers in Cincinnati and Dayton are scheduled to go on strike Monday.

So this Walmart's management is asking its low-paid workers to give to its even lower-paid workers. Those who are lucky enough to get close to full-time hours and have been around long enough to earn a princely $11 or $12 an hour can give canned goods to those working part time and earning more like $8, I guess. That's people who are kinda sorta getting by giving to those who are living in poverty—in an effort run by their mutual employer, who refuses to pay them the kind of wages that would make food donations unnecessary for all of them.

This may be the perfect illustration of the Walmart economy. Work doesn't pay enough to live on for "associates" at the largest private employer in the country, but even charity is too much to expect from the company itself. Walmart's explanation? "This is part of the company's culture to rally around associates and take care of them when they face extreme hardships." Sure, if you understand that the "culture" is that the company itself isn't helping at all.

As a direct acknowledgement by an employer that it isn't paying its workers enough to live on, this might take second place to a McDonald's employee help line telling a worker to apply for food stamps. But Walmart putting the burden of helping on its own workers at the same moment it's acknowledging many of them need help putting Thanksgiving dinner on the table (if they're not being forced to come in to work that day, anyway) is an added touch of gross callousness to the effects of Walmart's own low pay and part-time jobs.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Labor on Mon Nov 18, 2013 at 09:47 AM PST.

Also republished by Central Ohio Kossacks and Daily Kos.

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