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2005-09-01
Tampa, FL. Wal-Mart Workers Form Association

The hours and schedule that a Wal-Mart worker gets are based on decisions made hundreds or thousands of miles away by the retailer's Home Office in Bentonville, Arkansas. Each store is given a sales target and payroll target for the week, and if sales come in weak, the company requires the local store manager to make a "mid-week payroll adjustment" by cutting hours and shifting schedules to keep labor expenses in line with sales. In Florida this week, Wal-Mart workers told of their unhappiness with this unpredictable work. One cashier, a single mom with one teenage child, working at a Wal-Mart in Brandon, Florida testified, "I dropped from a full-time employee to part-time. Some weeks I haven't been able to get scheduled to work at all. It's difficult enough making ends meet on $7.40 an hour. Now it's choosing between paying the rent or having food on the table." A new group, called the Wal-Mart Workers Association, aired their grievances at press conferences this week in Tampa and Orlando, Florida. The St.Petersburg Times quoted a cart pusher at Wal-Mart, who heads the new group, as saying, "It's time Wal-Mart workers take a stand." The Association says it has about 200 members working in 30 different Wal-Marts in Florida. The group has vowed to help Wal-Mart workers process unemployment claims against the retailer -- claims which Wal-Mart often fights. The Association says the reduced work hours are a form of involuntary termination. One 70 year old greeter told reporters, "They told me if I couldn't work these new hours we would have to part ways. But I was really fired." Another worker at the Tampa Wal-Mart told The Times, "There would be a lot more people to speak out here today, but they are scared of retribution." Wal-Mart officials said no one would lose their job over the press conference. "It is their right to express themselves," said a Wal-Mart spokesman. "However, we would prefer they bring problems up through the internal chain of command. Our corporate culture is open-door all the way up. If you don't like the answer your boss gave you, you go to the next level."

What you can do: Some Wal-Mart workers have described the company's "open door" policy as "open your mouth, you're out the door." They describe the Wal-Mart "coaching" system, in which worker's are written up for infractions, as a very demeaning and disempowering process. For many of these workers, they face an uncertain future anyway as a Wal-Mart employee, and may find themselves out the door whether they speak out or not -- so why not speak out? For more information about the mid-week payroll adjustment policy, search Newsflash by "payroll."










 
 
"Norman has become the guru of the anti-Wal-Mart movement" ~ 60 Minutes

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