At the National Retail Federation’s Annual Convention, Walmart made a splash by announcing three new initiatives. While the company’s plans to hire veterans and ‘Buy American’ stole most of the headlines, its third announcement was a major victory for workers who have been coming together for change at Walmart for more than a year.
Speaking at the convention, Walmart US president and chief executive Bill Simon announced that Walmart would make schedules more transparent and provide the opportunity for workers who want full-time work to receive the hours they need.
These changes come on the heels of the largest nation-wide strike the company has ever seen and have been at the heart of OUR Walmart members’ calls since the creation of the worker-led group.
“I’m so happy and proud our hard work and action has paid off,” said OUR Walmart leader Cindy Murray. “We won these gains at my store and now we’re winning them across the country.”
The importance of creating sensible policies around these issues should not be underestimated. As Simon indicated in his speech, “1 in 4 American jobs are supported by the [retail] industry,” 1.3 million of whom are directly employed by Walmart. Inconsistent and nontransparent scheduling practices, along with not giving workers the hours they need to get by, has placed a huge burden on tens-of-thousands of Walmart workers nationwide. If properly implemented, Walmart’s initiative would have a positive impact on the lives of many Walmart workers.
While we remain cautiously optimistic that Walmart is finally starting to hear the voices of its workers, we know that Walmart must still be held accountable for making its new commitment a reality. With $16 billion in annual profits, Walmart can afford to offer quality jobs to its American workers and stop setting low standards for the entire retail industry.