Fed up with being retaliated against for organizing for their rights, Wal-Mart workers in over a dozen cities took part in one-day strikes against the company. These workers now have a new ultimatum. If the company does not stop with its crackdowns on organizing workers, they will walk out on the busiest day of the year: Black Friday.
This is a drastic move, and would be potentially game-changing when it comes to the relationship between Wal-Mart and its employees. That relationship has traditionally been one where the company recruits workers, crushes their unions, and pays them as little as possible.
Here’s one illustration of that. Wal-Mart CEO Mike Duke received compensation worth $18.1 million in 2011. Meanwhile, the average sales associate at the company was paid $8.81 an hour and a $15,000 annual salary (a full time work week at the company is 34 hours), according to independent market research group IBISWorld.
That means that the Duke earns 1,167 times as much as the average worker in his company. And even in times of so much inequality, that’s actually a CEO-to-worker pay ratio that’s way out of sync with the market average. The average CEO-to-worker compensation ratio was 209.4-to-1 in 2011, meaning that Wal-Mart isn’t only a very unequal corporation, but that it’s actually almost six times as unequal as the rest of America’s corporations. (By the way, the ratio in 1965 was 18.3-to-1!)
As the brave Wal-Mart workers who are organizing for their rights continue to speak out in the coming days, we should take these numbers into account and stand with them.