Posted on April 1, 2013 by jway
In the business world, Walmart has long been praised for its extraordinary ability to cut costs and maintain an incredible profit margin. Recently, however, the company has posted disappointing numbers in terms of growth. A series of recent articles indicates that Walmart’s cost cutting practices may be coming at a cost to the business. Customers are fleeing to competitors as understaffing leaves stores with long lines and empty shelves.
According to Bloomberg’s“Customers Flee Walmart Empty Shelves for Target, Costco” article:
“In the past five years, the world’s largest retailer added 455 U.S. Walmart stores, a 13 percent increase, according to filings and the company’s website. In the same period, its total U.S. workforce, which includes Sam’s Club employees, dropped by about 20,000, or 1.4 percent.”
“A thinly spread workforce has other consequences: Longer check-out lines, less help with electronics and jewelry and more disorganized stores, according to Hancock, other shoppers and store workers. Last month, Walmart placed last among department and discount stores in the American Customer Satisfaction Index, the sixth year in a row the company had either tied or taken the last spot.”
“Retailers consider labor — usually their largest controllable expense — an easy cost-cutting target, Ton said. That’s what happened at Home Depot Inc. (HD) in the early 2000s, when Robert Nardelli, then chief executive officer, cut staffing levels and increased the percentage of part-time workers to trim expenses and boost profit. Eventually, customer service and customer satisfaction deteriorated and same-store sales growth dropped, Ton said.”
A number of other stories detail the issue. In its article “Hey Walmart, It’s Hard to Make Sales When Store Shelves Are Empty” Time wrote:
“One way that Walmart keeps prices low is with minimal staffing levels in stores. But shoppers and workers alike are complaining that Walmart is understaffed, and the results include annoyingly long checkout lines and shelves that are barren—because there’s no one available to restock them.”
Similarly, the Examiner’s “Walmart’s Emptying Shelves and Low Staffing Send Customers to Other Outlet” stated:
“The public is dismayed with Walmart reaping record profits while its labor force relies on taxpayer dollars for support. However, empty shelves, absent help, fleeing customers and long lines at the checkout are signs of major customer dissatisfaction with the product, which is one-stop shopping and good customer service at discounted prices.”
Customers aren’t the only group that is dismayed. Workers have been very vocal about issues with understaffing for over a year. Regardless of where the issue lies, a MSN Money article “Walmart Shows Signs of Self-Destructing” nicely concludes: “Regardless of what’s causing Walmart’s problems, rolling back both customer service and available merchandise generally isn’t considered a recipe for retailing success.”
Posted on March 2, 2013 by jway
This blog was originally posted by Warehouse Workers United.
After months of protests, Cambodian garment workers will be paid wages and severance owed to them.
Just two days after 82 workers launched a hunger strike on the sidewalk in front of a Walmart supplier in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, companies that supply to Walmart and H&M agreed to pay workers about $200,000.
“We decided to go on hunger strike to show that we are not workers who can be pushed around,” said 26-year-old Sorn Sothy, one of the leaders who worked in the warehousing department of the factory. “We are strong, committed, and united.”
Your support helped! International delegations, peaceful protests and more supported the Cambodian workers who have demonstrated major flaws in Walmart’s supply chain.
You can watch their compelling stories below.
Since Jan. 3 as many as 200 garment workers have been sleeping on the street in front of the Kingsland factory in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Workers, who sewed underwear for Walmart and H&M suppliers, were owed $200,000 after the factory shuttered in December leaving workers without jobs, wages nor severance payment. Workers stayed in front of the factory to stop machinery and other assets from being removed before workers are fully paid in accordance with Cambodian law.
Posted on February 15, 2013 by jway
In light of President Obama’s mention of increasing the minimum wage to $9/hr in his State of the Union address, the spotlight has turned to low wage workers and the companies that employ them.
On Wednesday, Business Insider published a piece citing the top 20 companies with the largest low wage work force. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Walmart came in as number one, with its astonishing workforce of approximately 1.4 million workers.
Meanwhile, Slate published a piece highlighting the positive impact that increasing the minimum wage could have on companies like Walmart in addition to its impact on workers. As the piece states:
“It’s a complicated issue with many moving parts. But one thing investors might want to consider is how minimum wage affects lower-class spending habits — and which companies could benefit if and when an increase takes place.”
Despite the complexities of the economic debate, one thing remains clear: Walmart workers understand the importance of a living wage as well as anyone. Regardless of what legislation is passed, community members still need to keep pressure on Walmart to treat their workers ethically and pay a living wage.
Posted on February 14, 2013 by jway
Last week, OUR Walmart members and their growing coalition of allies from around the country met in Washington, DC. The group met to discuss the successes and short-comings of last year’s historic Black Friday strike, as well as to build toward a more bigger and more exciting 2013.
Organizations representing a broad cross section of the progressive movement, from labor and corporate watch-dog groups to civil rights and womens’ groups gathered to express their support for Walmart workers. The organizations pledged to take swift bold action against Walmart’s attempts to silence and intimidate its workers for speaking out for change. Additionally, they discussed an exciting calendar of events for 2013.
Ally support was absolutely essential to the success of Black Friday and to Walmart workers continuing efforts to make change. If the strength of the allies at this first meeting is any indication, it looks like 2013 will be a promising year for making positive change in the lives of Walmart workers.
Posted on February 13, 2013 by jway
2012 was a very important year for Walmart workers and for those of us working to challenge Walmart to be a more responsible employer. Here’s a look back at a few highlights from 2012.
Posted on February 11, 2013 by jway
Last week, a handful of Walmart workers from Maryland and Texas went out on an impromptu strike. After gathering in Washington, D.C. to meet with their growing coalition of organizational allies and to hold a lobbying day on the Hill, OUR Walmart members received word that Walmart was once again attempting to silence and intimidate its workers.
In 2012, Walmart workers who are members of OUR Walmart experienced intimidation and retaliation, which led to the Black Friday strikes. This intimidation is not only continuing, but is now taking on new forms. Workers around the country reported being pulled into store meetings, where managers lied to them claiming that 1) OUR Walmart no longer exists as an organization, 2) the Black Friday strikes were illegal and 3) anyone who speaks about OUR Walmart will be fired.
The truth is that OUR Walmart not only exists, but is growing faster than ever. The actions taken on Black Friday were lawful and workers who engage in such protest actions are legally protected. Moreover, it is illegal for Walmart to threaten its workers for exercising their legal right to come together with other workers for change.
Calling for an end to Walmart’s lies and tactics of intimidation, Colby Harris from Texas led a set of workers from a Maryland Walmart out on a one day strike. Additionally, OUR Walmart filed a formal charge with the National Labor Relations Board. Community members can support the OUR Walmart campaign by signing their petition here.
Posted on February 8, 2013 by jway
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: February 8, 2013
CONTACT: Lynsey Kryzwick 646.200.5311, Zoe Bridges-Curry 904.476.8681
WALMART WORKERS IN MARYLAND AND TEXAS FILE UNFAIR LABOR PRACTICE CHARGES
Workers report unlawful threats from management in response to protests and strikes
Washington, DC- On Thursday, Walmart workers in Laurel, MD, filed Unfair Labor Practices (ULPs) charges against Walmart with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), citing the company’s attempts to silence workers who speak out for better jobs. The charges allege that Walmart managers in Maryland, Kentucky, Florida and other states have been unlawfully and incorrectly telling Walmart workers that their actions taken last Black Friday violated the law and that any future attempts to strike would be illegal and punishable. Managers have also warned workers that associating or even talking with members of Organization United for Respect at Walmart (OUR Walmart)—protected activity under federal labor law—could lead to disciplinary actions and/or termination.
In addition to filing charges, workers in Maryland and Texas walked off the job Thursday in protest of Walmart’s retaliation against workers, exercising their right to join together with coworkers to speak up about working conditions.
“What I know based on my conversations with other OUR Walmart leaders and other associates in Maryland and other states is that last week Walmart managers started reading a memo to employees stating that their strikes are illegal and if they did not stop taking action against the company they would be punished,” said Colby Harris a Dallas, TX, Walmart Associate, OUR Walmart leader, and striker. “Not only are such statements to employees illegal and incorrect but they are threatening and intimidating and no one should have to endure that. I along with other Walmart associates work hard to support our families and support our community, as a worker I should have the right to do my job free from intimidation and threats.”
Walmart workers have been speaking out about the company’s attempts to silence workers who publically discuss labor rights, and standards at the company. However, rather than listening to the concerns facing 1.4 million Walmart workers, Walmart has attempted to silence them.
Last October, OUR Walmart leaders held the first-ever strikes against the mega-retailer, which culminated in the historic Black Friday protests and strikes at Walmart stores across the country. Since then, support for OUR Walmart, the associate organization calling for Walmart to improve labor rights and standards, has continued to grow.
OUR Walmart filed charges with the NLRB alleging over 80 violations against Walmart for its attempts to silence workers at stores across the country. For example, the NLRB is investigating charges alleging Walmart unlawfully attempted to deter workers from participating in legally protected strikes planned during last year’s Black Friday shopping period. This includes threats from Walmart managers and the company’s national spokesperson, David Tovar, who went on national television and threatened consequences for workers if they chose to strike.
Posted on February 7, 2013 by jway
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Washington, DC- Today at noon, Walmart workers in Maryland and Texas citing Unfair Labor Practices (ULP)committed by Walmart, walked off the job in protest of the company’s attempts to silence workers who speak out for better jobs. The worker’s action come in response to reports of Walmart managers in Maryland and across the country telling Walmart workers that their actions taken last Black Friday were illegal, any future attempts to strike would be illegal and punishable, and for associating or even talking with Organization United for Respect at Walmart (OUR Walmart) could lead to termination.
“What I know based on my conversations with other OUR Walmart leaders and other associates from Walmart Associates in Kentucky, Florida, Illinois, Maryland and other states last week Walmart managers started reading a memo to employees stating that their right to strike are illegal and if they did not stop taking action against the company they would be punished,” said Coly Harris, a Dallas, TX Walmart Associate, OUR Walmart leader and striker. “Not only are such statements to employees illegal but they are threatening and intimidating and no one should have to endure that. I along with other Walmart associates work hard to support our families and support our community, as a worker I should have the right to do my job free from intimidation and threats.”
Walmart workers have been speaking out about the company’s manipulation of hours and benefits, efforts to try to keep people from working full-time and discrimination against women and people of color, but rather than listening to the concerns facing 1.4 million Walmart workers, Walmart has attempted to silence them.
Last October, OUR Walmart leaders held the first-ever strikes against the mega-retailer. At that time, workers walked off their jobs in more than 12 cities and with the support of national and local leaders, held protests at more than 200 stores. Since then, workers have walked off the job in Richmond, CA and Dallas, TX, and support for OUR Walmart, the associate organization calling for Walmart to publically commit to address labor rights and standards, has continued to grow.
Striking warehouse workers, who move billions of dollars of merchandise for Walmart, joined the call to speak about the retaliation they have experienced for speaking out against unsafe working conditions, including extreme temperatures, broken and unsafe equipment and inadequate access to clean drinking water. The workers from the Inland Empire, outside of Los Angeles, held a 15-day strike that included a six-day, 50-mile pilgrimage for safe jobs last September.
Energy around the calls for Walmart to publically commit to changing its treatment of workers and communities has been building. Last year, thousands of Walmart Associates and their supporters took unprecedented actions against Walmart in response to illegal actions the world’s largest private employer has been taking against its workers. We saw Walmart workers walk off the job from California to Maryland, in protest against the company’s attempts to silence workers who labor rights, and standards. And in the fall for the first time in the history of the company, we saw the first group of Walmart associates go on strike. As a result nearly 1,200 protests and actions took place at Walmart stores for its treatment of employees and the communities they occupy.
“The reason I decided to strike was because I cannot allow Walmart to mislead, threaten and intimidate myself or my fellow associates. We have rights and legal protection and if we don’t stand up to these misleading and downright untruths now, Walmart will continue its behavior and that is just unacceptable. We must hold Walmart accountable for their actions,” said Harris.
Following the protest at Walmart’s Laurel, MD store, Harris and other Walmart workers went to the National Labor Relations Board to file an official complaint against Walmart for their latest action to silence and intimidate workers.<
OUR Walmart’s purpose is to help Walmart employees as individuals or groups in their dealings with Walmart over labor rights and standards and their efforts to have Walmart publically commit to adhering to labor rights and standards. OUR Walmart has no intent to have Walmart recognize or bargain with it as the representative of Walmart employees.
Posted on January 31, 2013 by jway
Below is OUR Walmart’s official statement on the Labor Board’s ruling from earlier today.
Washington-This week the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) General Counsel issued a memo holding in abeyance a charge Walmart filed against UFCW over picketing which occurred at Walmart stores. As part of the resolution of the matter, OUR Walmart will continue to inform its members and supporters that the organization’s purpose is to help Walmart employees as individuals or groups in their dealings with Walmart over labor rights and standards and their efforts to have Walmart publicly commit to adhering to labor rights and standards.
To place in context Walmart’s charge, OUR Wamart has filed over 80 charges against Walmart for its attempts to silence workers at stores across the country. Over the course of the last year, there have been numerous unfair labor practice charges filed with the NLRB against Walmart for wrongful termination and unfair labor practices directed toward their workers. Other pending charges allege that Walmart unlawfully attempted to deter workers from participating in legally protected strikes planned during last year’s “Black Friday” shopping period. This includes alleged illegal threats from Walmart managers and the company’s national spokesperson, David Tovar, who is alleged to have threatened workers on national television.
In Kentucky, a settlement of one charge was reached between Walmart and Aaron Lawson after Walmart fired Lawson following his distribution of flyers and for speaking out for better wages and consistent hours for him and his co-workers. As part of the settlement, Walmart agreed to rehire Lawson and provide full back wages for the time that he was out of a work.
As noted in the NLRB General Counsel’s memo, to clarify any confusion about OUR Walmart, the organization will advise its members and supporters that the organization has no intent to have Walmart recognize or bargain with it as the representatives of Walmart employees.
“OUR Walmart has been able to raise the voices and concerns of workers at Walmart stores across the country and this resolution ensures that will continue,” said Colby Harris, OUR Walmart member from Dallas, Texas. Citing Walmart’s recent announcement to address part-time scheduling, something that OUR Walmart members have been fighting for, Harris said, “Walmart is hearing us and at least starting to make changes that will improve the lives of workers and their families and our communities, and we will continue to raise our voices until there is real change at Walmart.”
In the resolution, OUR Walmart agreed to refrain from “picketing” or other actions that can be construed as “picketing” for a 60 day period. This does not affect or limit OUR Walmart members’ and supporter’s ability to otherwise protest, demonstrate against or strike because of Walmart’s unfair practices and poor record on labor rights and standards or otherwise help Walmart employees as individuals or groups in their dealings with Walmart over such issues and their efforts to have Walmart publically commit to adhering to labor rights and standards.
Posted on January 29, 2013 by jway
The following is a press release from Warehouse Workers United.
ONTARIO, Calif. – The state of California has ordered a Southern California warehouse that processes merchandise for Walmart and other retailers to pay 865 workers more than $1 million in stolen wages.
The California Division of Labor Standards Enforcement issued the citations Monday, Jan. 28 against Quetico, LLC, a large warehouse complex in Chino, California. Back wages and unpaid overtime total more than $1.1million and in addition the state issued about $200,000 in penalties.
“Quetico is strict when it comes to enforcing its rules with workers so it is only fair that the state enforce the laws that the company broke,” said Abraham Guzman, a warehouse worker who has been at Quetico for about two and a half years. “I am satisfied that the law will now be followed and workers have won justice.”
Last year workers brought concerns to the Warehouse Worker Resource Center, an advocacy organization that works with Warehouse Workers United. Workers showed that they were missing pay for time worked, missed lunch periods, warehouse time clocks were faulty, workers pay stubs had been adjusted by the company reducing their pay and workers said that if they complained managers would issue a warning and restore their pay. After three warnings workers are fired.
“Workers face particularly egregious working conditions at Quetico,” said Guadalupe Palma, a director with Warehouse Workers United. “Workers were routinely punished if they asked to be paid for the time they worked. Many workers opted not to receive the pay they were owed just to keep their jobs.”
Workers at the three-building warehouse complex label, tag and pack apparel and shoes for major brand names and retailers including Walmart, Levi’s, Maidenform and Puma.
The Quetico warehouse has been cited numerous times in the last year by multiple state agencies. In May the Division of Occupational Safety and Health, or Cal/OSHA, fined the warehouse for unsafe working conditions including inadequate access to bathrooms. In June, the DLSE determined that at least three workers were retaliated against and had their pay docked for requesting to be paid for missing wages. In addition, several workers have filed federal charges with the National Labor Relations Board for retaliation.
“Many problems that we commonly see in Southern California warehouses are concentrated at this warehouse,” Palma said. “We are grateful that the state has taken such dramatic action.”
Warehouse workers at a nearby facility that moves merchandise exclusively for Walmart and is operated by Schneider Logistics filed a federal lawsuit in October 2011 alleging massive wage and hour violations at a Walmart-contracted warehouse in Southern California. In January Judge Christina Snyder ruled that Walmart can be added as a defendant in the lawsuit to recover millions of dollars in stolen wages.