Walmart CEO Promises To Eventually Raise Wages For Lowest-Paid Workers

As proponents of higher pay for Walmart workers prepare for a day of protests against the retailer, its CEO is making the vague pledge that the company will eventually no longer have employees making only the national minimum wage.

CEO Douglas McMillon was quick to point out to reporters on Wednesday that only about 6,000 of Walmart’s 1.3 million U.S. employees earn the federal minimum wage of $7.25 (We don’t know if that number included those employees in cities and states with minimum wages that are higher than the federal minimum). He also claims that the average full-time hourly wage is $12.92.

But McMillon, who says the company is making an effort to “invest in its associate base,” declared that “it is our intention over time that we will be in a situation where we don’t pay minimum wage at all.”

He did not provide details on how Walmart would actually raise the wages of those lowest-paid employees.

The other looming issue is the increasing pressure to significantly increase the federal minimum wage, which hasn’t been changed since 2009. If the minimum were to be pushed to $10, $12, or $15 per hour as some advocates have suggested, Walmart would then have to raise the pay of many employees to live up to this new pledge of not paying the minimum.

Meanwhile, protests are scheduled today in New York and Washington, D.C., by union-supported OUR Walmart, a group of Walmart workers pushing for better pay from the retailer.

The company recently announced that it will no longer be offering insurance to about 30,000 part-time employees who work fewer than 30 hours per week.