Close to 75 people (including Assemblyperson Barbara Lifton; County Legislative Chair Tim Joseph; and Ithaca Mayor Carolyn Peterson) gathered Thursday outside the Ithaca Wal-Mart to present 5,268 signatures collected onto petitions demanding that Wal-Mart begin to pay it’s employees a Living Wage. Thanks to the close to 100 people that have volunteered their time and efforts to the Coalition in gathering these signatures! We intend to continue the petition-gathering (it’s been an *incredible* organizing tool) as well as to figure out new strategies to bring pressure upon Wal-Mart and other “big-box” stores in line with the idea that we’re serious about ending poverty.
the story in Thursday’s Ithaca Journal, the General Manager of Ithaca’s Wal-Mart *refused* to accept the petitions! Thus we have sent them to Wal-Mart Headquarters in Bentonville, Arkansas. Those who would like to write a Letter to the Editor of the Journal about the importance of a Living Wage are strongly encouraged to do so!
Wal-Mart likes to tell us its average wage nationally is well above a living wage – $9.68. However, if you have 4 employees and three of them are paid $7.50/hour without affordable health insurance, and one of them is paid $16/hour, yes their average wage is about $9.68. But three out of four employees don’t get the average wage. They don’t get a living wage. They get a poverty wage.
That $7.50 for a full-time Wal-Mart employee is $13,260 for the year. If the pay is $8.50 their annual gross is $15,000. The Tompkins County Living Wage for a single individual is $19,100 including health insurance, or $9.18/hour for someone working a 40-hour week.
To read an excellent story that appeared in Thursday’s edition of Ithaca College’s The Ithacan check out “Thousands of Signatures, One Goal.”