FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: April 24, 2013
NATIONWIDE COMMUNITY AND WORKER DELEGATIONS CALL ON WALMART STORE MANAGERS, CEO MIKE DUKE TO CORRECT SCHEDULING PROBLEMS
Actions come as concern grows over Walmart’s inability to keep shelves stocked due to inadequate staffing
Today Walmart employees, community supporters, and allies across the country took delegations to more than 150 stores calling on Walmart managers to publicly commit to immediately addressing the scheduling problems that leave many associates unable to care for their families and afford basic necessities like food and rent – and impact their ability to help grow the economy. Walmart’s hours and scheduling practices – which workers and community have repeatedly raised as key concerns– have come under sharp criticism recently from customers and analysts for contributing to empty shelves, backed-up inventory, long lines, as well as weakened reputation and lower store sales at Walmart.
“Even after five years at the company, I’m not getting the hours that I need and want,” said Maria Elena Jefferson. “Even if I wanted to get a second job or go back to school, I couldn’t because Walmart constantly changes my schedule. I’m dedicated to my job and I have years of experience – I want to work full time so that the work gets done well.”
The groups, which include hundreds of Walmart associates and community supporters, delivered a February letter to CEO Mike Duke calling on the executive to address the widespread staffing issues at stores nationwide. With no response at the national level and continued attempts to silence workers who voice their concerns, the groups are calling for Duke’s resignation for a failure of leadership on these critical issues and appealing to individual store managers for more hours and transparent scheduling practices at their stores.
“You can see the problems when you walk into the store – the shelves are empty,” said Derek Sanders of Fremont, CA who has worked at Walmart for seven years. “And in the back room, it’s even worse. We’re two seasons behind on getting things out to the floor. Yet with all the work that needs to be done, I am still only able to get 24 hours of work most weeks. It’s impossible to get all the work done in the time allotted.”
Over the past five years, Walmart has undergone a 5.8 percent decline in employees–more than 82,000 workers.
Insufficient hours and inconsistent scheduling have been central concerns being raised by members of OUR Walmart, the organization of associates calling for a change of course at the company. In protest of the illegal efforts to silence their voices, associates at 1,000 stores across the country took bold action by going on strike at Walmart on Black Friday with tens of thousands of supporters joining them. Since that time, Walmart has increased its efforts to keep workers quiet, even filing a meritless lawsuit against some workers.
In January 2013, OUR Walmart members won what looked like a victory: Walmart President Bill Simon publicly announced that Walmart would provide more transparency in scheduling and offer part time workers the opportunity to get the hours they so desperately need to make ends meet. Months later, workers report that Walmart has yet to make good on its public commitment to change.
“It’s time for Walmart to make good on its public commitment to workers and to our community,” said Sarita Gupta, the executive director of Jobs with Justice and American Rights at Work. “We cannot strengthen our economy when the country’s largest employer is creating erratic scheduling and inadequate hours that keep hardworking associates from being able to support their families.”
Even with short-staffing impacting store sales, Walmart is still reporting $16 billion in annual profits and the Walton family, which controls the majority of the company, is wealthier than 42 percent of American families – combined. At the same time, many of its workers are relying on public programs, including food stamps, Medicaid and other healthcare programs to support their families. The most recent Congressional review, which was prior to the recent economic downturn that has seen an uptick in families relying on public supports, estimated a cost of $420,750 tax dollars per year, per standard Walmart store for coverage of food, housing and healthcare assistance that workers are unable to afford on their wages.
Follow the conversation on Twitter at #WMTJobs and see photos at ChangeWalmart.Tumblr.com.
UFCW and OUR Walmart have the purpose of helping Wal-Mart employees as individuals or groups in their dealings with Wal-Mart over labor rights and standards and their efforts to have Wal-Mart publically commit to adhering to labor rights and standards. UFCW and OUR Walmart have no intent to have Walmart recognize or bargain with UFCW or OUR Walmart as the representative of Walmart employees.