People Are Being Physically Beaten So We Can Save Money At Walmart

Walmart: Save money. Live crappy. With frowny face.

We already have enough reasons to not shop at Walmart — the poor treatment of their employees is legendary. But could it get worse? Yes, it could. How about being beaten if you try to organize with other workers to demand humane treatment and decent pay? A Walmart supplier in Tipitapa, Nicaragua has employees who have experienced exactly that.

Jobs with Justice reported on April 5, 2013 that on March 4th, the Nicaraguan company SAE-A paid a mob of 300 people to attack their employees with scissors, metal pipes and other weapons as retaliation for their organizing efforts. To date, 16 employees have been illegally fired. The Worker Rights Consortium, an organization that monitors clothing manufacturers around the world, investigated the incident and filed a damning report that completely supports the workers’ claims and found other concerns, such as denial of restroom breaks and forcing people to work when ill.

The 8,000 SAE-A employees make t-shirts, camisoles and other Lycra clothing for Walmart and other retailers. Walmart is their largest customer. From Jobs with Justice:

These workers are fighting to improve their working conditions, demand respect, and win better wages. They’re trying to form a union, but they’re facing extreme retaliation. Sixteen workers have already been illegally fired in this fight. Walmart refuses to intervene, even though it is one of the supplier’s largest partners, and is in a position to put a stop to the abuse.

Look, it’s just too much to ask. Humane treatment, after all, costs money. I mean, if they treat people well, how are we going to buy $4 t-shirts? Am I going to have to go somewhere else and pay $6? These people make $1 per hour. That’s enough to live on in these third world countries, isn’t it? And them wanting to go to the restroom? C’mon. Can’t they hold it? Seriously? I need my $4 t-shirt!

Look, we shouldn’t be worried about that, right? By shopping at Walmart for our clothing, we actually save a lot of money. Why would we care where it came from? I mean, us buying from Walmart is WHY these people have jobs…why our U.S. Walmart employees have jobs. Shouldn’t that make it OK for us to shop there? People need jobs, and Walmart employs a lot of people.

The Walmart motto is “Saving people money so they can live better.”

Is it OK for us to live better at the cost of human dignity? Can we continue to face ourselves knowing that this is going on and we are contributing to it?

No. It’s sickening.

All over every Walmart store and on every Walmart advertisement, you see this catchy little motto:

Save money. Live better.

Yes…but at what cost?

I live in a very rural area. We have one decent grocery store, another very indecent and dirty grocery store, a few over-priced drug stores, and…Walmart. There are some items I just can’t find anywhere else. Walmart’s medication prices, coupled with the discount cards that hometown pharmacies don’t accept, save my family hundreds of dollars per year. What do we do? That’s what I’ve asked myself repeatedly over the last couple of years as more and more reports have trickled in about Walmart’s treatment of its employees. Well, the trickle has become a flood, and my conscience will no longer allow me to ignore this issue.

But our options are so limited. What do we do? Are there answers?

Here is what we do. We find answers. We find options. Thoughtful people with consciences can’t continue to support this company. If I continue to turn a blind eye and a deaf ear to the atrocities that are occurring; if I continue to justify my reluctance to go to the trouble to find alternatives to Walmart; if my family doesn’t address this, I’m not living as a responsible human being, I’m certainly not living as a Christian, and I’m not setting the example that I want to set for my children.

Not sure if my readers noticed, but I put a lot of questions in this article. It’s because I have a lot of questions for myself. The things I”m asking you, I”m asking myself, too.

If you’re so inclined, please join us in signing the petition that is asking Walmart to demand the workers’ reinstatement and provide a better working environment for its employees. And consider joining me and others in our genuine efforts to find alternatives to Walmart.



I am an unapologetic member of the Christian Left, and have spent a lot of time working with “the least of these” and disadvantaged and oppressed populations. I’m passionate about their struggles. To stay on top of topics I discuss, visit my blogsubscribe to my public updates on Facebook, or follow me on TwitterFind me somewhere and let’s discuss stuff.