Walmart Worker: Why I Love My Job And Can't Fathom The Protests
Walmart connected us with one of them, 21-year-old Derek Fouts, an hourly associate at Walmart's first store in Rogers, Ark., who says that he loves his job. He spoke with us before rushing off to an Elton John concert, sponsored by Walmart.
By Derek Fouts (as told to Claire Gordon)
I decided to work at Walmart because one of my best friends had worked there for five years, and she always talked about how much she loved it. And I've always been around Walmart; it's a touchstone in my neighborhood. I'm there every day, even if I'm not working. I see people I go to church with. There's a connection there to my emotions, to memories growing up.
The Wages Aren't A Problem
I earn $9.05 an hour, work 32 to 36 hours a week, and I've never had a problem getting by, even when I was working as a cashier. After 90 days, I got my 90-day raise, and every year I'm up for another raise. If I do a good job, Walmart rewards me.
I love that I can purchase stocks, and my discount card gives me 10 percent off. Every bit helps, especially in this economy. Plus, for $7 a paycheck I can use the Walmart fitness center, which has a track, exercise equipment, a swimming pool, classes -- anything you can imagine. I am eligible for Walmart health insurance, but I'm 21 so I'm still under my mother's plan.
I Get The Hours I Need
The worst misconception people have about working at Walmart is that the store won't give you the hours you need. That's never been a problem for me. I just took a semester off school, but before that they would work with my schedule so I had time to go to class and study.
Unions Could Only Make It Worse
I don't think a union would make anything better, as I love working there as it is. There's a lot of pride and morale at my store, as Walmart Store No. 1. Why fix something if it's not broken? -- as the old saying goes. I really can't explain why there are all these protests going on. I can't fathom why. I've never heard a complaint about unfair treatment.
Opportunities To Advance
The best thing about working at Walmart is definitely the ability to advance. I started out as a cashier in December 2011. After six months I was asked if I'd be interested in becoming a customer service manager. The manager also asked if I'd ever been interested in the assistant manager program. The store manager personally told me that she'd support me if I wanted to pursue that.
I'll Be At Walmart Until Graduation
I plan on working at Walmart until I graduate college. After that, I hope to become a high school English teacher.
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Claire Gordon has contributed to Slate's DoubleX, the Huffington Post, and the book Prisons: Current Controversies. While an undergraduate at Yale University and a research fellow at Yale graduate school, she spoke on panels at Yale and Cornell, and reported from Cairo, Tokyo, and Berlin. Follow Claire on Twitter. Email Claire at firstname.lastname@example.org. Add Claire to your Google+ circles.more...