Workers Call on Walmart to Improve Conditions
Posted on June 11, 2012 by jway
On Friday June 9, USA Today ran a feature story documenting the impact of Walmart’s low wages, fluctuating schedules and the unaffordable benefits it offers its workers.
The article comes as a blow to the company, as it prepares to celebrate its 50th anniversary. In the piece several OUR Walmart members, including Janet Sparks of Louisiana, describe the difficulty of making ends meet without a livable wage. Walmart claims the national average for its full-time workers is $12.40, however, this is inconsistent with the experience of associates like Janet who makes $11.60 an hour as a front-of-the-store manager.
The wage issue has only worsened over the last decade. In 2006, Walmart implemented a cap on raises for each position. OUR Walmart member Mary Pat Tifft of Kenosha, Wisconsin says her wages have been capped for the last six years.
Supplementing Walmart’s low wages with a second job is often difficult due to hourly workers’ irregular schedules.
The company’s computerized scheduling system, which cross-references employees’ available hours with likely store sales and customer traffic to determine who should be working and when, makes it nearly impossible for some associates to anticipate their schedules from week-to-week.
Schedule instability is especially problematic for associates with children who need to make childcare arrangements in advance.
Walmart’s health care plan forces many associates to either spend a substantial portion of their take-home income on premiums or enroll in public programs, like Medicaid, to cover their families.
Walmart has compounded the health care access problem with more stringent eligibility requirements. Twice in the last two years the company has raised the number of hours that part-time employees need to qualify for benefits.
This post was written by Kurt Scott.