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A Simple Question

ACORN is pushing for a “living wage” of $7.50 an hour in the city of Albuquerque. However, a quick Google search seems to indicate that ACORN is at war with Wal-Mart. Yet, it doesn’t make any sense when you consider this:

Carl Jones, one of the leaders of the new group, said Wal-Mart’s pay was too low, pointing to the $9.40 an hour he earns after five years as the lead shopping cart pusher at a Wal-Mart in Apopka, outside Orlando.

“It’s really hard for me and my wife to make ends meet,” Mr. Jones said. “They treat workers like we’re just something there to be used and to get as much out of us as they can.”

Wal-Mart is paying this guy $9.40 for pushing carts, and he is complaining. Apparently, $9.40 is not a livable wage even though it is $1.90 per hour higher than what is being proposed in Albuquerque.

In fact, enemies of Wal-Mart are quick to debunk the CEO’s claims that the average wage is $10 an hour:

As Tom Geoghegan, a labor lawyer in Washington (and author of Which Side Are You On?: Trying To Be For Labor When It’s Flat On Its Back) points out, the relevant number isn’t the average, which would be skewed upward by the large salaries of relatively few highly-paid company executives – Scott, for example, receives, by one reckoning, 897 times the pay of the average Wal-Mart worker – but the median. In the Dec. 16 New York Review of Books, Simon Head, director of the Project on Technology and the Workplace at the Century Foundation, stated, “the average pay of a sales clerk [italics mine] at Wal-Mart was $8.50 an hour, or about $14,000 a year, $1,000 below the government’s definition of the poverty level for a family of three.”

That’s right. The average pay of a sales clerk at Walmart is $8.50 an hour. A full one dollar higher than the so-called living wage law being proposed in Albuquerque. This brings us to my simple question. Why isn’t ACORN putting Walmart on a pedestal as a shining example of corporate citizenry?

Maybe it is because the living wage push has nothing to do with the needs of workers and everything to do with trying to revitalize declining union membership.