Lauraine Lowe asserts in her Dec. 7 letter that wages paid by Walmart reflect the cost of living in Missoula and elsewhere. Lowe’s claim is a repeat of baseless rhetoric that intends to dismiss and silence workers’ concerns.
As a former employee of Walmart, I know firsthand the struggles of working to make ends meet. Working full time and paying for the basics was not possible on the low wages Walmart pays. I was forced to rely on credit debt and food banks to supplement my hard-earned but meager income. My Walmart experience is not unique. The majority of Walmart workers struggle to make ends meet despite working full time.
The Job Gap Study reports a living wage for a single individual in Montana is $13.92 an hour and for a household of two this wage is $19.36 an hour. These are wages a full-time worker needs to pay for the basics in Missoula and throughout Montana.
The average hourly wage of a non-managerial Walmart worker is $8.63 an hour – thats $1,380 per month before taxes for full-time work. This wage does not reflect the cost of living in Missoula.
A single person must earn at least $2,413 per month to live in Missoula. This number increases with the addition of household dependents. The responsibility of caring for household members often falls on working women who are over-represented in low-wage jobs. Women generally make less than men working the same jobs. The Alliance for a Just Society reveals that “half of all women working in Montana do not earn enough to make ends meet.”
It’s clear that the wages corporations such as Walmart, Target and Safeway pay are too low and don’t provide an adequate standard of living for workers.
Chad Bishop, organizer,
Missoula Area Central Labor Council, AFL-CIO,