If You are Going to Occupy, It Helps to Know Why

Yesterday, I gathered my passport and drove across the Rhode Island border into Fall River, MA to get some plastic storage tubs at Walmart. Little did I know I’d run into a protest by Occupy Fall River.

As I entered the store, four hardy people were speaking with management, stating their case. All fine and well.

I tapped one participant on the shoulder and asked what their demands were. He said “higher wages.” Me, always the noodge, said, “do you know what the Walmart employee makes now?” Minimum wage, he answered. I said, are you sure?

I went and bought what I needed and on my way out, saw two managers and asked for their comment. He said that none of the protesters lives in Fall River, none is a current or former Walmart employee yet are being sent out to protest wages at every Walmart across the nation.

One manager said to me that he and his wife have both worked at Walmart for over fifteen years, both are now managers, and both are very happy with their salary, benefits and bonus package.

As I exited, the protesters were outside so I stopped and asked them a few questions. (Note: the woman in the white jacket did most of the talking. The happy man of the group was sporting an SEIU jacket on with an Elizabeth Warren sticker said nary a word, but he nodded alot. The woman holding the placard spoke last.)

The conversation went something like this:

Me: Could you tell me the reason for your protest today?

Woman #1: yes, we want Walmart to pay its sales associates more.

Me: How much do you think they make now and how much would you like them to make?

Woman #1: They should make a decent and competitive wage.

Me: But give me a dollar figure. Your statement is meaningless unless you know what the Fall River employees make.

Woman #1: We KNOW, believe me we know, that their salaries are low.

Me: But you have not answered my question. What dollar amount are you protesting that you feel is too low? 

Woman #1: [crickets]

Me: Who is paying you to protest today and how much an hour are YOU getting to be here?

Woman #1: I don’t care for your tone or your question.

Me: But it’s quite relevant. If you are protesting a wage for people who HAVE a job, a job they likely treasure dearly, no matter their position at the store, and you are getting paid by some well-funded block at a scale higher than you claim the Walmart employees make, then aren’t you being hypocritical?

Woman #2 (the one in the vest, holding the placard). If the Walmart CEO were a christian, he’d give up his salary for his employees.

Me, incredulous: You don’t mean to tell me you think by keeping a salary he earns, to keep afloat the millions of employees worldwide, he’s not being christian? What is the name of the Walmart CEO anyway?

[crickets, redux]

I left but get this….The SEIU guy left as I did, in a beautiful big and very new-looking Chrysler 300. Hmmmmmm.

I did some homework when I got home and found quite a few articles about Walmart’s salary. This post is not to justify Walmart or their practices, but as a point of saying that if you Occupy….

From the website Payscale.com
that compared salaries between Target and Walmart employees:

1. Greeter/Floor Sales Representative
Target: $6.77 – $12.06
Walmart: $6.98 – $12.18 per hour

2. Cashier
Target: $7.38 – $10.27 per hour
Walmart: $7.30 – $10.40 per hour

3. Retail Store Assistant Manager
Target: $48,003 per year
Walmart: $42,134 per year

4. Retail Store Manager
Target: $65,960 per year
Walmart: $60,326 per year

5. Retail Pharmacist
Target: $114,492 per year
Walmart: $106,138 per year

6. Department Manager, Retail Store
Target: $48,457 per year
Walmart: $29,211 per year

7. Customer Service Sales Associate
Target: $7.34 – $16.76 per hour
Walmart: $7.79 – $12.75 per hour

8. Laborer, Freight, Stock, Material Mover
Target: $6.93 – $14.08 per hour
Walmart: $7.35 – $14.90 per hour

As for time off, Target starts out by offering slightly more vacation for workers with less than a year’s tenure. Those with one year of experience at the store typically get a week off with pay. At Walmart, it’s the same.

The biggest disparity between Walmart and Target are in employee bonuses. Walmart is much more generous for some positions, offering its assistant store managers $2,948 as opposed to Target’s $2,457. Store managers at Walmart get a whopping $9,958, nearly double Target’s $4,880 for the same job.

19 thoughts on “If You are Going to Occupy, It Helps to Know Why

  1. My first cousin works at Walmart and loves it. She stared out as a sales associate and worked her way up to Manager. I’ve never once heard her complain about the salary or benefits.

    The Occupy movement is worthless, making demands for the sake of making demands, They don’t do their homework. They haven’t a clue what they ar talking about. Thanks for taking the time to interview them and make my point.

    1. Thanks for that info Catherine. As I noted, this was not a post for or against Walmart and their practices. Rather, a statement of fact that this particular Occupy team was ill-informed.

      PS: You are commenting, so that must mean you survived the family gathering in the Adirondacks!! Do tell.

  2. the occupy movement had such an opportunity to make a real statement. instead, they went off on tangents into space, wanting free tuition for all, free meals, high wages, to shut down Wall Street, demand CEOs take back salaries. your post is a perfect example of how far afield they went. they are all nuts.

  3. Well, in MY day, we at least knew why the heck we were demonstrating.
    This generation doesn’t know beans about protesting. No catchy tunes, no leadership, no common themes, no blockbuster movies of the concert….
    I’m no fan of Walmart, can’t stand the store but they are providing jobs in the horribly depressed city of Fall River.
    Does Walmart = Fall River or are they occupying elsewhere? Battleship Cove, for example.

    1. Occupy Battleship Cove. Good one!! 🙂

      Yes, Walmart pretty much = Fall River. There are plans to build a Walmart Super Store a few miles away from this one, and this one will close. The new store will employ even more people, both in its construction and when done. The current one is a dump, in a strip mall that looks like it hasn’t changed since 1960. Sam’s Club is joining the Super Store and according to the Town of Rall River, it’s a good thing.

      Long gone are the days when Fall River was King of the Mills so if I know that and you know that, wouldn’t you think Occupy Fall River would know that and would rather its residents have A job, not be unemployed. I’ve probably gone into that Walmart a half-dozen times in the years its been around – not my thing either, but for us hicks who live at the end of the earth in RI with no retail, it means going to a big box store.

      So, I have to ask Swanton, in your day, what did you demonstrate against?

  4. Hey, I didn’t even know you were back blogging. I was cleaning out my Favorites folder and clicked EOSr for old time sake, and voila. Good for you.

    I’m all for free-speech and demonstrating and protesting, but Swanton hit the nail on the head. You gotta know WHY you are out there.

    In our day, no one paid us, we were out there for the cause. Today, Occupy is big business and I bet their parent company has coffers deep enough to rise to the level of being 1%. Oh the irony of it all.

    I have a Walmart Super Store near me in Amherst, NH that I use all the time. Their grocery store is better than the local supermarket. The employees are great, helpful, and the place is always clean. Did it put a mom and pop out of business? Probably, but that won’t stop me from patronizing a place where alot of my neighbors work.

  5. Nope. And, no one ever asked me that before! I didn’t even make it to Woodstock. I could say I was en route when they closed the NY Thruway but I’d be lying.

  6. Brava, EOS. It’s all too easy to just ignore and rush past these jokers but good for you for making them a bit uncomfortable.

    It’s quite telling that SEIU man showed up for the “protest” so I did a little digging by going to their website (yes, there really is an OccupyFR website)…not very active or organized but it exists. The hold their meetings at a place they call UNFR which turns out to be a nonprofit called United Neighbors of Fall River (A Community Connections Coalition). They don’t list their 501(c)3 status or incorporation anywhere that I could find on that website so I couldn’t verify their history as a nonprofit but I did do a wee bit of nosing around and found some employees of CCC listed on Linkedin who relate their jobs to community organizing, social justice, and the like and I can’t find a single one who worked for them prior to 2009…When were those ACORN tapes leaked again? 😆

    So the usual suspects; a mix of youthful idealists, old radicals, and hucksters rebranded under an innocuous sounding name.

    1. I am assuming in your previous life, you were either a CIA agent or with the FBI?? You always manage to come up with the best stuff – not stuff like Biden meant, as in malarky, but stuff as in background info. Thanks.

      I don’t begrudge these people for demonstrating. I only find it beyond ludicrous that they are being sent out there by “others” and not, as Swanton, said, for something they are passionate about, a cause they feel deeply in. I so wished they had been informed, been able to carry on a conversation with me, able to lay out their points. I would have listened intently. I might not agree but I give credit to anyone who goes out there fighting for something they honestly believe in. These folks, not so much.

  7. @EOS, just call me Curious Georgette. 😀

    If something piques my interest, I like to give it a poke and take a peek under the hood to see what it’s in there.

  8. Thank you for doing this. I work for Walmart in California and one of my cousins lives in Fall River and said she saw the same protesters yesterday. She didn’t have the courage to stop and ask them about their reason for demonstrating. I like my job and while I don’t make a fortune, Walmart is a good company to work for. I would have liked to give the woman in the white jacket a piece of my mind.

    1. Janice: How on earth did you find me and this blog? I don’t think I made the Fall River papers nor did I give anyone my name, rank, or blog name! Just curious but thank YOu for stopping by and commenting on this subject.

  9. It’s interesting actually. I have another cousin in Connecticut who saw your post about the Weir Farm in Ridgefield. She sent me the link and she started following your blog daily so when you posted this today, she sent me the story. Small world.

  10. I’m most intrigued by the poster that has quotes around the word earns. Do the protesters think the CEO doesn’t work for his salary? So naive. I don’t happen to care for Walmart and go out of my way to NOT shop there, but at least if you are going to protest, make up a better poster than that! Their ignorance was showing.

  11. I was at Woodstock! A wee toddler, barely 18 months old lol but I was there, protesting my full diaper and empty belly. For a but, anyway, till the mams took me down to sleepy land. What an awesome time to be alive with a hippy mom and my dad in the 82nd Airborn.

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