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The Hard Cost of Cheap Labor

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Clean Up on Aisle 7 -

Here, where I live, there is a rising anti Walmart force. See, Walmart has decided to build one of their Over – Megasized “supercenters” in our tiny little small town, and though allegedly, a permit has not yet been pulled, we have already seen some loss of small businesses. The little town I live in has always had a focus on the small business, this sadly will bring the destitution of the small business.

And what cost are we paying to get those “cheap” prices? Who does it hurt? now, and ultimately later? What is the Cause and Effect for this alleged “value” and is it really a value to us, and the economy? 

 There are many that are “For” Walmart, and what they believe is that this evil empire brings more “freedom” to Americans. Personally, I think that those individuals really don’t get it, and the more they defend Walmart and their cheap prices, that unfortunately their lack of information on this topic really shines through.

People, Do you understand why this country is in Recession??? When you lose your job, because of the trickle down effect of the Problems which companies like Walmart create, will you be able to continue to have the “Freedom” to shop there? Even though those prices are so “cheap”?

And what cost are we paying to get those “cheap” prices? Who does it hurt? now, and ultimately later? What is the Cause and Effect for this alleged “value” and is it really a value to us, and the economy?

Personally I think there should be a law in America that states, that unless you are informed, unless you REALLY know and understand the dynamics of what one is voting for, one should NOT be allowed to vote.. a bit harsh isn’t it? Or is it? Yes, some say, this isn’t about a vote; Yes, indeed it is! It is Not only about hearing, listening, and knowing about what is occurring in your economy today, how it affects you now.. but also finding out what was the Trigger, the Cause, and what more harm will happen tomorrow.

Sometimes when I hear some screaming about the wonders and benefits of companies like walmart, I want to say – hey – Suggestion, take an economics class or two, so that you may get a better understanding of this situation, please, it isn’t as black and white as it appears. It really isn’t..Toggle editor

Seriously, it is companies like ING, Bank of America, Walmart, Enron, Tyco, WorldCom, and especially the GAS COMPANIES like Chevron, Shell, Mobile – that ultimately TAKE AWAY Americans’ freedoms… and the people who are fighting these giants, they are fighting on Behalf of YOUR freedom, because they understand and realize that you were probably too busy, or maybe just didn’t understand, how YOUR FREEDOM becomes lost due to the TRICKLE DOWN EFFECT (In reverse) from companies like this!

Well, for those who wonder what is exactly wrong with what many call the “evil empire” Let me please share some facts with you,-they come from a movie called “the high cost of low price” — This movie comes Loaded with Facts and data – not only from Walmart themselves, but also from research done by UC Berkeley’s Labor Center, Philip Mattera, research director for Good Jobs First; The Center for Public Policy Priorities; Executive Office of Health and Human Services Division of Health Care Finance and Policy; Justice Department and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and so many more. The information on the facts and data can also be found at

Now here is some reasons why YOU Should care about What walmart is doing to Your Local and State economy, environment, and community –

WAL-MART Drives Down Retail Wages $4.7 BILLION Every Year
A recent study by researchers at UC Berkeley’s Labor Center

UPDATE: Since the completion of our film, the study has been finalized and published, and the published findings produced a different number for the annual loss in retail earnings than the preliminary figure we used in the film. The published study ultimately found that Wal-Mart actually reduced the take-home pay of retail workers by $4.7 BILLION dollars annually. Unfortunately for the retail workers this statistic concerns, Wal-Mart’s effect on retail wages turns out to be worse than we had anticipated.

Federal Poverty Level Family of Four – $17,650 Average Wal-Mart Hourly Sales Employee Wages – $13,861 “On average, Wal-Mart sales clerks — “associates” in company parlance — pulled in $8.23 an hour, or $13,861 a year, in 2001, according to documents filed in a lawsuit pending against the company.”


The WALTON FAMILY Has Given LESS THAN 1% of Their Wealth to Charity Bill Gates has given 58%. YET The WALTON FAMILY Made $3.2 MILLION in Political Contributions in 2004. In 2004, WAL-MART Employees gave OVER $5 MILLION to help fellow workers. BUT The Walton Family gave $6,000. The WALTON FAMILY received a federal tax cut of: $91,500.00 per HOUR in the 2004 tax.

According to the Wal-Mart Facts website, “The typical Supercenter raises or gives $30,000 to $50,000 a year to local charitable needs ranging from youth programs to literacy councils.” From a survey of Wal-Mart’s grand opening contributions, its giving averages to about $47,222 per store.


  • WAL-MART Costs Taxpayers $1,557,000,000,00 to Support its Employees”The Democratic Staff of the Committee on Education and the Workforce estimates that one 200-person Wal-Mart store may result in a cost to federal taxpayers of $420,750 per year – about $2,103 per employee. Specifically, the low wages result in the following additional public costs being passed along to taxpayers:
  • $36,000 a year for free and reduced lunches for just 50 qualifying Wal-Mart families.
  • $42,000 a year for Section 8 housing assistance, assuming 3 percent of the store employees qualify for such assistance, at $6,700 per family.
  • $125,000 a year for federal tax credits and deductions for low-income families, assuming 50 employees are heads of household with a child and 50 are married with two children.
  • $100,000 a year for the additional Title I expenses, assuming 50 Wal-Mart families qualify with an average of 2 children.
  • $108,000 a year for the additional federal health care costs of moving into state children’s health insurance programs (S-CHIP), assuming 30 employees with an average of two children qualify.
  • $9,750 a year for the additional costs for low income energy assistance.”
  • The total figure is based on the average $420,750 per-store figure, multiplied by 3700 (the approximate number of stores currently in the United States).

NOTE: $86 MILLION a Year to California Taxpayers In 2004, a study released the UC Berkeley Labor Center found that “reliance by Wal-Mart workers on public assistance programs in California comes at a cost to taxpayers of an estimated $86 million annually; this is comprised of $32 million in health related expenses and $54 million in other assistance.”

Wal-Mart dismisses the findings of the UC Berkeley study, “Hidden Costs of Wal-Mart Jobs,” as a “union hit piece.” However, text from Wal-Mart’s own internal memo substantially corroborates their findings.

The original report did not include costs to the public for Wal-Mart employees who are uninsured. Information from the Wal-Mart memo also points to the possibility of additional taxpayer costs incurred from uninsured employees, as analyzed by the Labor Center: The memo further reports that 19% of Wal-Mart employees lack health insurance. The cost of uncompensated care for those workers adds an estimated $202 million in taxpayer costs nationally, and $10 million in California. These costs were not quantified in the original report.

In addition to these new findings, a paper presented at the recent Wal-Mart sponsored conference by Michael J. Hicks of the Air Force Institute of Technology and Marshall University, finds that “Wal-Mart does increase Medicaid expenditures by roughly $898 per worker, which is consistent with other studies of the Medicaid costs per low wage worker across the United States.”


  • In Texas it is estimated that they cheated workers out of up to one hundred and fifty million dollars in unpaid wages.
  • Wal-Mart currently faces lawsuits in thirty-one different States for wage and hour abuses potentially involving hundreds of thousand workers.
  • Wal-Mart is facing a class-action lawsuit for discrimination against 1.75 million former and current female employees.
  • Currently in the U.S. there are 26,699,678 SQUARE FEET of empty WAL-MARTS
  • Cost for WAL-MART Factory Worker to Assemble: $0.18. Retail cost at Wal-Mart: $14.96
  • 2005: Connecticut EPA orders WAL-MART to pay $1.15 MILLION for Clean Water Act violations in 22 stores “Attorney General Richard Blumenthal and Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Commissioner Gina McCarthy today announced a $1.15 million settlement with Wal-Mart involving environmental violations at 22 stores related to stormwater and other water management issues.”
  • WAL-MART Imported $18 BILLION from CHINA in 2004! The world’s largest retailer, Wal-Mart Stores Inc, says its inventory of stock produced in China is expected to hit US$18 billion this year [2004], keeping the annual growth rate of over 20 per cent consistent over two years.”

There is So much more on the site, but I got to say this alone was enough to give me a major heartburn.. Yes, I do believe that.

This article was originally written in April 2008




Karen Mattonen, has built the reputation as a passionate advocate of workforce ethics and labor relations.  Her passion, Knowledge and network has escalated over the years to a point where she is faithfully engaged  by 1000's of corporate professionals that appreciate her insight and perspective.

As a result of feedback from her articles, and blogs, and from attending a variety of conferences; Karen came away frustrated that the "experts " usually stopped short of making firm recommendations which might actually aid professionals as they returned to their workloads.

While appreciating the counsel offered at these popular events, she felt that an attempt should be made to disseminate more, and better information by the industry's regulatory agencies, and peer reviewed experts.

Her passionate and tireless advocacy has led her to create HireCentrix - The Pulse of H.R, Regulation, Retention, Recruiting and Risk Management   Hirecentrix is a company dedicated to providing training to the HR, recruiting and staffing industries, which includes a special focus on the ethical and legal dimensions through offering a full service resource for individuals to share and communicate, obtain current and accurate information, acquire and provide education and learning within the quickly expanding, diverse and rapidly changing Recruiting and Human Resource climate.

HireCentrix makes available Critical, Actionable and Required direction and insight, often from  sources among the most qualified on the subject.  The HireCentrix experience is made available in a way that overcomes the time and budget challenges that plague the modern reality of Human Capital professionals.

Karen has achieved accreditation as a California Accredited Consultant (CAC) through California Staffing Professionals. She has also gained her Certified Staffing Professional Certificate (CSP) through American Staffing Professionals. (

Outside of the HR community, Karen Mattonen has been cited by Microsoft as a resource in how to use Microsoft Outlook as an ATS. She has also served as the Marketing and Public Relations Director for the 3rd largest city in Utah.


Click here to reach Karen via email.




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