Walmart Worker: Why I Love My Job And Can't Fathom The Protests

Walmart worker Derek FoutsThis week, thousands of Walmart associates are in Bentonville, Ark., to celebrate the annual shareholders' meeting. So are hundreds of Walmart protesters, some employees, most organizers, all demanding better wages and working conditions. The protesters have so far grabbed much of the media coverage; but what about the Walmart associates who aren't joining the walkouts and 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.

More: Walmart Workers: This Is Why We're Striking

Lots Of Great Perks
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

Staff Writer

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 claire.gordon@teamaol.com. Add Claire to your Google+ circles.

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mts10431

This Wal-Mart mininon who sooooooo loves his job, still lives at home. Enuff said!

July 15 2013 at 11:36 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
noplowboy

The wage is not Wal-Mart problem it is the boss you have they do not know the job like food they can even under stand the laws that protect people like chain of cool food . A lot of people get sick and no one cares . as long the food gets sold. I had to turn bosses in to police because of food. Wal-Mart gets a find of 25,000 and the boss get a better job.
this 4 of July they sold sweet corn with mold on it.

July 13 2013 at 3:20 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Mark

Hey, as a (almost) former employee of Wal-mart, I should write my own little article about how I feel about Wal-mart, and how it's done in the store I'm currently working at!

The Wages:
From my wal-mart, those that work overnight make a staggering dollar more than working at regular hours (9.30 overnight when I started two years ago, 9.10 now). I've never heard of a "90 day raise," more of a probationary period, then evaluate you to what your current work ethic is (which will tell you what you could possibly get at the yearly evaluation, up to 50 cents where I'm at). if I do a good job, then I am rewarded with the work of someone who isn't working to standards.

The perks:
Nothing to gripe about, that's almost spot on, they do match 401K to a percentage. However, the 10 Percent discount only applies to everything except grocery (minus a few items, such as coke and pepsi products), and grocery during the months between thanksgiving up to new years.

The hours:
This has never been an issue with me, they will make sure to make part time employees never reach full-time hours, and the scheduling will sometimes be shorting you hours on paper, however you will most likely work your full 40 (no overtime unless stated).

Unions:
Well I have never joined, nor been a part of any unionized workforce, however with how management is run now, I'm sure it could help some. Unfair treatment is commonplace, almost a daily event.

Opportunities to Advance:
Now this one is tricky. There generally are opportunities open to those that wish apply. They also won't do in-house hiring for management and other higher up positions (I've worked for 2 years, have seen about 5 or 6 different assistant managers switch or leave). i've also noticed that if you excel in your position, do not expect to be promoted for it, prepare be kept where you are. On the flip-side, if you do get promoted, you won't ever be demoted, only switched to a different shift. I've seen some of the most incompetent managers (on the lower level of the totem pole, i.e. support managers) do horrible jobs, complained about by higher ups, and instead, keep their position for 3-4 months before transferring to another equal position in a different department.

All in all, I would not suggest Wal-mart to those that wish to have a career there. Merely take it as another job until you can find something better.

July 11 2013 at 1:17 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
derek walther

I wonder if this dopey hick has any idea that wallmart has a life insurance policy on him and most of their employees. To wallmart you are worth more to be dead than you are alive!

July 11 2013 at 12:14 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
mafiaboss

I am sure there are good Walmart stores out there . However they are a multi billion dollar company that could afford to pay their people better . I was a Walmart associate for 22 years ! I was terminated 4 days before Christmas . This was for absences . Days were counted that I missed while on an FMLA . I was disputing the discision day ( day given with pay to decide if you want to stay working at walmart ) , The reason for the dispute was because I should not have been at a discision day . Assistant store managers I guess desided I couldn\'t dispute it so they fired me . My D-day was not even put in till after I was fired . I have a paper from a law judge stating I was wrongfully terminated , PRICELESS !!!!!! When I called Home Office they wanted me back at work A.S.A.P. There was noway I was going back . I made 16.96 hour . Not bad till you think about it in terms of 22 years of service . Some that had been there only 7 years were already making 13.00 an hour . I loved the people I worked with and most of the customers . Management not so much . I do have to say that I watched Walmart go from being a good company to work for to a not so good place to work . All I can say is Greed will get you nowhere Walmart .

July 10 2013 at 4:53 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
DannyJane

Gimme a break! This kid's in school! His parents are supporting him. Further, as a white male he's being offered promotion opportunities denied men of color and women of any background. He has no plans to stay there, all it does is pay for hs school.

I wonder what he would say if he had a family to support!

July 10 2013 at 2:54 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
eg.ellis

Wal-Mart, where low career expectations are met. Every DAY ! :-)

July 10 2013 at 2:26 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
mphseason

The slaves said the same thing when they were told they were free....come on people....grow a spine....you can live WITHOUT Walmart.....

July 10 2013 at 1:27 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
gxball5506

Walmart an icon in America and a place to work and earn a living. protesters and unions and state council members should respect the amount of money investment to the owners and associates of WALMART TO INVEST IN AMERICA and in other countries. These council board members in W.d.c BETTER PAY ATTENTION TO THERE ACTIONS.

July 10 2013 at 11:57 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to gxball5506's comment
nan.keyes

So tell me, can you pay all of your bills on what you make there?

July 10 2013 at 2:56 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
kage

Yeah he mentions he's in college and on his mothers insurance! I worked an $8/hour job in college and was fine! No family or rent! Recently I was paying my share of my health insurance which came to $250/month! Try living off $10/hour with that and rent and student loans etc....They picked the wrong guy for this story unless they are trying to not help themselves.

July 09 2013 at 4:01 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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