Maine Labor Head Says Walmart Wage Hike 'Very Positive News'

Feb 20, 2015

Maine labor advocates are applauding the news that Walmart plans to increase wages for some of its lowest-earning employees. Starting in April, the company says it will increase its minimum pay to $9 per hour. In a year, the rate will increase to $10 per hour.

"This is very positive news," says Matt Schlobohm, executive director of the AFL-CIO in Maine. He says the wage hike is a good first step, but more needs to follow.

"Walmart has a long long long way to go," he says. "They need to raise their wages to living wages — family sustaining wages — they need to have fairer scheduling practices, they need to stop shifting costs on to the public, but this is absolutely a very positive step."

For years, Walmart, along with other major businesses, has been the target of protests in Maine and elsewhere, with picketers suggesting wages of $15 per hour.

The wage hike will affect about 500,000 workers at the store nationwide, more than a third of its workforce.

Walmart is the nation's largest private employer with about 1.3 million people on the payroll.