Fox Business’ Tracy Byrnes repeatedly insulted Walmart workers demanding $15 an hour in wages. According to Byrnes, Walmart employees are lucky to have a job and if it’s not a living wage – well, they’re paid enough.
“Just because these people want more money doesn’t necessarily mean they deserve it,” Byrnes said. “Walmart as an overall corporation has to make this decision on their own. This should not be by force, by protest.”
Philip Dine, author of State of the Unions and labor advocate said, “I don’t see how Walmart would give raises without meaning to. If they give raises, it’s because they’ve finally come to their senses, and they realize that a well-trained work force that stays in place, doesn’t look for a better job and is motivated and feels good about their job, will be more productive. And also, why should Walmart workers be on public dole because they get such low pay?
”But they have jobs, Phil.” Byrnes replied. “Don’t take the job if you don’t want it. They are still getting paid, they get paid quite well.”
Dine shot back, “I’d like to see how you define ‘well paid.’ If you think Walmart workers are well paid, why is it that so many of them qualify for public assistance?”
Statistics indicate Dine is correct. Businessweek found that more than half Walmart’s store workers earn under $25,000 a year. Huffington Post suggests the average sales associate pay is under $18,000 a year. A study by Congressional Democrats found that one Walmart Supercenter in Wisconsin could cost taxpayers as much as $900,000 in public assistance to employees otherwise unable to afford basic needs.
But Byrnes insulted Walmart employees again. “Go find another job,” she said dismissively. “The notion that they could demand more for – with all due respect – ringing a cash register, I think is completely unfair to the company.”
Host Stuart Varney sided with Byrnes, of course. He said to Dine, “What you’re proposing is to just give a huge wage raise to people simply because they are there, not because they’ve upgraded their skills at all.”
Dine said, “Look, at the beginning of last century, manufacturing workers were very poorly paid. …Why did manufacturing workers get better pay? Because they organized and negotiated contracts.”
Byrnes again insulted Walmart workers. “Unions are just hurting Walmart,” she insisted, “They’re not doing Walmart’s employees any service by consistently fighting and demanding for things they don’t deserve.”
Dine told Byrnes, “You’re all over the lot. A: they’re well paid; B: they don’t deserve to be well paid. Which is it?”
”They deserve the money they’re making right now, Phil,” Byrnes answered. “They don’t deserve to bang on management’s door, to Stuart’s point, to demand more money just because. …They are making what Walmart wants to pay them. Who are you or anyone else to determine that number?”
Dine argued, “Well, that’s a very nice view of capitalism. People get what employers say they should get. I guess workers have no rights in your America.”
Varney went on to argue that higher-paid workers would damage the Walmart brand. “Walmart is a brilliant retailer. If they were unionized, they would lose some of that brilliance,” he said.
Both Byrnes and Varney are ignored – or didn't care – about the realities for Walmart workers in the U.S.. Check out Gawker’s insider account from an “angry Walmart manager” in February. Or The Guardian’s behind-the-scenes Q&A in 2013 with a $8.25/hour “part-time” associate who often worked “closer” to 40 hours a week with no benefits.
Watch the one percenter obliviousness below.