Catholic charity shuns Walmart’s ‘blood money’

By Stephen C. Webster
Friday, November 23, 2012 10:16 EDT
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Walmart CEO Mike Duke. Photo: Flickr user Walmart Stores, creative commons licensed.
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A Catholic charity in Tucson, Arizona said Thursday that it would not accept a gift of $2,000 from mega-retailer Walmart, calling the offer “blood money.”

“We feel that even though Walmart has low prices, they pay lousy wages, they’re anti-union and they have a detrimental effect on the survival of small businesses,” Brian Flagg, who runs the Casa Maria Free Kitchen in Tucson, told The Arizona Daily Star. “We consider that blood money.”

Flagg said it wasn’t just him making that decision, either. After consulting the charity’s board, they decided it was only appropriate they turn down the money, a first for the group. “The consensus was not to accept the money,” he reportedly added. “Hopefully we’re modeling good Catholic, Christian behavior.”

Critics often cite Walmart for having a detrimental effect on the small business community in areas where it sets up new stores, which often employ workers for minimum wage, offering little in the way of benefits. The retailer has even been caught actively helping employees sign up for food stamps (PDF), much of which is returned to Walmart through actual food purchases.

Workers also say they are often overlooked for raises and paid minimal amounts for long hours — a key reason the famously anti-union retailer was being targeted on Black Friday by organized strikes in nine states.

A Walmart spokesperson told the Star that the company has given more than $345,000 to Tucson organizations that support community needs. “Our pay and benefits typically meet or exceed what’s offered by the majority of our competitors; we promote from within, our turnover rate is below the industry average and our associates’ satisfaction scores have trended higher over the past few years,” the spokesperson added.

Photo: Flickr user Walmart Stores, creative commons licensed.

Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster is the senior editor of Raw Story, and is based out of Austin, Texas. He previously worked as the associate editor of The Lone Star Iconoclast in Crawford, Texas, where he covered state politics and the peace movement’s resurgence at the start of the Iraq war. Webster has also contributed to publications such as True/Slant, Austin Monthly, The Dallas Business Journal, The Dallas Morning News, Fort Worth Weekly, The News Connection and others. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenCWebster.
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