As the wage wars continue to sprout up across the country, last week The Supreme Court sided with 187,000 Pennsylvania Walmart workers in a class action lawsuit against the corporate behemoth. The gist of the matter began back in 2006 when the retail giant forced its employees to work through their lunch breaks without pay. Walmart ended up appealing the $224 million lawsuit, which was ultimately denied; as a result, these overworked and underpaid employees will finally get their paychecks and a little extra for their troubles. The national labor union, Making Change at Walmart, was elated to hear that the case had finally been settled:
“The world’s largest retailer won’t be able to continue to mistreat its workers and get away with it. Walmart workers, when they come together, have a powerful voice that cannot be silenced.”
Michael Donovan, of the Donovan Litigation Group, represented the Walmart employees and had this to say after the final outcome: “Wage theft will not be tolerated, and class actions are an optimal way for large numbers of workers to recover wages stolen by their employers.”
Walmart has become notoriously known for profiting from cheaply made imported goods from across the waters and selling them for the lowest possible prices, which in turn is putting numerous small businesses in financial jeopardy. And not only that, Walmart has been doling out poverty line wages to its employees. In addition to these improprieties, a Bloomberg report disclosed that the Walton “family business” has managed to sock away approximately $76 billion in tax havens located in Luxemburg and other areas where Walmart has no retail outlets, yet they only pay a fraction of the cost in taxes (one percent) when compared to the US (35 percent.) As a result, the corporation has reduced their $455 million tax revenue to just $13 million, which is merely a drop in the bucket to Walmart’s total earnings.
Bur Walmart’s penchant for profits and subsequent employee exploitation may have reached its peak. Just last month they set a record low for growth in sales during their 45 year history as a company. Walmart also closed 154 locations in the US and approximately 100 more across the world. Their business model is heavily focused on importing and reselling cheap items while giving their employees the shaft, so to speak. They’re also intent on breaking up unions via these questionable practices while reaping the benefits of mass federal tax cuts and subsidies.
That said, it’s quite clear that Walmart is playing a shell game for the ages and has been getting away with it for decades while taking full advantage of corporate tax loopholes designed to heavily favor the wealthy. While the work force pays its fair share in taxes and Walmart continues its wicked business practices, the clear and present fact remains that there are two majorly different types of tax codes: tax breaks across the board for them at the expense of the American public. The recently settled lawsuit against Walmart may end up being a benchmark case and set a precedent for future exploitative class actions against corporate greed.