Walmart Gets More Heat for Low Pay

Workers are pouring out their woes in anonymous posts

BTEW3E Anglo male shift manager at Walmart is ready to greet customers at grand opening of new store in Austin, Texas, USA.  ret
Alamy
The pressure on Walmart is growing from within, as workers tell behind-the-scenes tales of overwork and underpayment at America's largest employer. But there's another, potentially more damaging source of growing criticism: the media, including the financial media that covers events from the investor's perspective.

The latest insider tell-all comes from a Walmart assistant manager, who told Salon.com he gets paid for a 40-hour week but routinely works 48 hours, and 60 hours during the holiday season, to fill in on tasks like cashiering and restocking. He blames the long hours on the company's determination to keep down the number of hours worked by other store personnel, who are paid by the hour.

The assistant manager is hoping that an expansion of federally-mandated overtime pay, recently proposed by President Barack Obama, will go through. He doesn't even want the overtime pay. He wants more time to spend with his family.

A 'Systemic Problem?'

Meanwhile, more Walmart employees are venting anonymously on a page at TheStreet.com with a url that reads, in part, "pictures-and-employee-emails-that-make-me-think-walmart-is-about-to-implode.html."

TheStreet.com is a site for active investors, founded by well-known stock picker James Cramer. The emails are in response to a story which included images inside a Walmart store that showed littered aisles and empty shelves next to overflowing heaps of merchandise.

TheStreet.com writer Rocco Pendola suggests that Walmart has "a "systemic problem" of overworked employees in understaffed stores.

The employee comments echo his view. "I really believe we're watching a failure unfold in front of our eyes," Pendola writes.

Not all of his colleagues at TheStreet.com agree. The site reiterated its "buy" rating for Walmart stock last week, after the company's latest quarterly earnings release.

The Money View

The story on TheStreet.com is only one example of the kind of coverage that Walmart is getting lately from the financial media -- hardly a breeding ground for radical thinking on matters of workers' rights.

Late last year these included:
  • Fortune magazine concluded that Walmart ought to give its workers a 50 percent raise, and says it could be done without harming its bottom line or disappointing its investors. It even argues that the move would be good for the company's bottom line, because its better-paid employees would have more money to spend at Walmart.
  • Bloomberg Businessweek was on hand at an investors' conference when Walmart CEO Bill Simon revealed that about 475,000 of the company's hourly workers are paid at least $25,000 a year. The business site pointed out that this means more than half of Walmart's hourly workers earn less than $25,000 a year.

The median household income in the U.S. was $51,017 in 2013, according to Census Bureau statistics. A family with an annual income of $23,492, or an individual making $11,720, is considered to be living in poverty.
  • CNN Money compared the low-salary strategy of Walmart and other companies to comparable companies like Costco. The no-frills warehouse store pays its employees an average salary of just over $20 an hour. The company's stock price has more than doubled since 2009.

A Beautiful Thing

Walmart is countering the bad vibes with a video campaign called "Work is a beautiful thing." The latest entry features an admirable young man who overcame his disabilities and found a job at the Little Tikes toy factory in Akron, Ohio.

Walmart has pledged to increase its purchases of American-made goods to $250 billion over the next 10 years. That announcement was a response to another criticism of the dominant retailer, that its dependence on foreign suppliers was depriving Americans of jobs.

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glbbte

What the Assistant Manager in the article failed to say was that 4 of those 48 hours were lunch. I was an associate there for 6 years and I could say I "worked" 45 hours a week but that's misleading. 5 of those hours are lunch. They are scheduled on a 3 day, 12 hour rotation. So one week they may be scheduled 48 hours (which is really 44) but there are weeks where because of the rotation they are only scheduled 36 hours (again, with 3 of those hours being lunch). So some weeks they don't even work a 40 hour week. And they are salaried, so I'm not sure why he said he was paid for a 40 hour week anyway. They do have to pick up a lot of hours during the holiday season, I'll agree with that, and if we had special visits they would maybe have to pick up an extra day. The thing is, Walmart does have excellent benefits if you're full time-a great 401k, stock purchase plan and health ins. I had a hard time quitting because of that, but to work there is hell. The stress is unbelievable, if you are in a position like Dept Mgr or above it's just not worth it. The stores are not properly staffed and they want 1 person to do a job that is meant for 2 or 3. I was making a little over 14 an hour, but old timers there do pretty good. Some cashiers make upwards of 20 an hour because they've been there so long. I know 2 people who did the same job I did and make 26 an hour because they've been there 20+ years. They can't get raises now because they're above the cap, but that's pretty good money for an unskilled job in retail. Cashiers, stockers etc-why would any company pay these positions anymore than minimum wage? This is unskilled labor and I do think it's a little unfair that Walmart gets so hassled about wages. The majority of these people are not college graduates, many of them aren't even HS grads. I don't understand why people think they should be earning great money when they aren't educated. College graduates are having a hard time finding decent jobs, where's the sense in saying that a cashier at Walmart should be making 13 or 14 an hour starting out? They didn't spend time trying to better themselves. And someone said they took the Sunday premium "away". Half true. If you were already making it you were grandfathered in, just like the people who were making time and a half on Sundays were grandfathered in when they changed it to a dollar. And it's easy as hell to get promoted there. More than half the mgt started out at entry level, which I think is most of the reason the stores run like hell. There's basically a bunch of uneducated idiots running the stores. They have no training in business or employee relations. It really is horrible to work there, I had to throw in the towel after 6 years. I just couldn't take the way associates are treated by upper mgt any longer. And I have not one time regretted my decision.

April 11 2014 at 3:06 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
john

The problem is the employees aren't smart enough to unionize. They need to make Walmart realize that without their labor force regardless of how skilled or unskilled you think They are Walmart will cease to exist. That is a fact.

March 28 2014 at 8:58 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Terry Wexler

for a minimum wage salary at 7..25 hr for 40hrs comes to a yearly pay of 13,920 BEFORE taxes a lot less than 25,000........and since many hours are cut.......you figure it out

March 28 2014 at 5:11 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
fmeagle2323

Walmart isnt the only store with over worked employees. Burlington Coat Factory is doing the same thing. As a former manager for a store, I felt like a slave overseer than a manager. We were told by upper management to cut everyones hours to no more than 20 a week but ensure the store was maintained on less budget then we ever had. Former owners treated every one like family, since the corporate buyout, we were nothing but dollar signs there to put money in their pockets. SAlaried slaves we were working 50 hrs plus, sometimes 80 during inventory.

March 28 2014 at 2:19 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
legererj

It is the poor work ethics and cry baby,s doing all the complaning. We are a small company, and fire anyone who slacks and complains.

March 28 2014 at 2:13 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to legererj's comment
Americulchie

Nonsense regarding poor work ethics,having worked at the mega evil Walmart goes out of its way to destroying any work ethic,lying about policy, ignorant and or uncaring management.Probably the worst of it is the benighted brown noser's ,who anyone knows are worst employees. Walmart begged to be organized,now they spend billions to keep unions out,instead of paying their devoted employees a living wage.

March 28 2014 at 3:11 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
fastkata7d

If you don't like the pay,don't work there..............if you are a union thug whining.keep whining.

March 28 2014 at 11:37 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to fastkata7d's comment
Mary Pat

do you really think that is a constructive comment? apparently your answer is to run away from the issues rather than try to stand up and fix them - what happens when you run out of places to run? you may call it whining, but I will tell you that this is no easy feat for associates to speak out - so many are so fearful of the retaliation of speaking out - but slowly many are conquering that fear and standing up and speaking out - wish people like you would realize that they don't do this for themselves, but for all

March 28 2014 at 2:37 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
aveeris523

As long as the owners are taking in huge amounts of money, there's no problem in our present economy. If God liked the emloyees they would make more money.

March 28 2014 at 10:19 AM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply
d1anaw

Here's a plan. Get a different job. If you cannot get another job that pays what you think you are worth, then maybe you need to evaluate your job skills and come to the realization that you don't have the job skills that demand more money and do something about it. Entry level jobs are just that, entry level. They aren't intended to be lifelong careers, but a stepping stone. If you are still doing the same job at the same pay 10 yrs down the road, a little self introspection is in order. If people who are unhappy went elsewhere, they'd have to raise their wages to get workers and all without the benefit of phony union promises.

March 28 2014 at 10:02 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
dssmalik

If Walmart raised the wages of its hourly workers, the workers wouldn't qualify for medicaid and food stamps. Walmart's human resources departments even help workers to apply.

March 28 2014 at 9:14 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
njenel

i believe the store WILL implode, nobody is stocking the shelves.

March 28 2014 at 9:11 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

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