Is Walmart Being Treated Unfairly?

 Is Walmart Being Treated Unfairly?  

 A group has organized to expose Walmart and their treatment of their employees. The group is organized by Making Change at Walmart and the United Food and Commercial Workers Union. They are also supported by the AFL-CIO. The 22 state, 30 city cross country tour made their stop in Dallas last week. This was from their press release:   

 “Walmart’s failure to pay a living wage costs taxpayers an estimated $682.0 million annually for its employees’ public assistance needs (as of 2014). Because Walmart refuses to do the right thing, thousands of its workers are forced to rely on government assistance programs to survive. In fact, a single, full-time Walmart employee, working 34 hours a week with 2 kids, still qualifies for Medicaid and food stamps even if they make Walmart’s average wage claim of $13.75 for full-time, hourly workers.

Irregular schedules and insufficient sick days also make Walmart a difficult place for families to work. Walmart’s low wages and poor benefits drain our community’s taxpayer-funded resources and hurt working families. Walmart already costs federal taxpayers an estimated $6.2 billion every year to cover their employees’ government assistance needs, like food stamps, CHIP, Medicaid, and subsidized housing. With Walmart profiting $13.6 billion last year, it is outrageous that a company this wealthy would depend on taxpayers and the community to subsidize its operations.”

The last sentence of their press release I think creates the question. Just because they make 13.6 billion, should Walmart pay more? Is this a classic call for wealth redistribution? Is Walmart being unfairly attacked? Let’s think about this for a second. Are they paying at least the minimum wage? Are the labor laws being violated? Did employees know what they were getting when they accepted employment at Walmart? Are they being forced to work against their will?

It doesn’t seem like they can answer any of the above questions and point to unfair treatment of Walmart employees. Having said that, it is unfortunate that Walmart does not value things such as the work/family balance. Further, it is even more unfortunate if employees are not offered fair compensation that is line with industry averages.

Then there is the accusation that Walmart is costing taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars of taxpayer money through government assistance programs. There is a portion of the workforce that gets paid hourly and needs help taking care of their families. That is why we have government assistance.   

Don’t get me wrong, I am not a fan of Walmart. I do think there is a lot of truth to the dark side of Walmart. I also think that there are some moral issues at stake here. Expose them breaking labor laws and then you have something to expose. What are your thoughts? 

  • Judith Nicole Parrish

    I worked for Target as a sales floor manager and saw this everyday. Target and other retailers (Walmart), are not worried about the work life balance or if they are paying enough to take care of a family. In California, the labor laws are even more critical! As an example, I’d close one night (be there until 11:30 PM +) and then be schedule to open the next morning. Sure, there may be an exact 8 hour difference, but within that 8 hours is driving from work and to work and sleep (4 or 5 hours). Did they break the law? No. Was is fair? Depends.

    From your blog, I would say the biggest take away is that no one is forcing you to work at Walmart or at Target or anywhere else! If you’re not happy, try and find a different job. Or talk to your HR and make a corporate complaint/suggestion. Will it do anything? Probably not.

    It’s sad too because I was one of those people who qualified for food stamps and other government assistance with a college education and a corporate HR job. What is the actual root of the problem? Is it how much I’m getting paid? Does the minimum wage need to be increased? What about the business itself? Are they getting taxed so much where promising higher wages becomes a detriment to the business?

    I think that’s why I liked Trump – I thought (and still think) he will lower business taxes and that those businesses will increase employee wages. However, I don’t know if that will actually happen if those taxes get lowered. It might create a bigger dichotomy and void between the rich and the poor and the middle class is either going down or up.

    • crashtx1

      Judith, We had a daughter that worked at another company that like to assign a term they called “clopen”, you close late and open early. It is just a terrible idea and shows very bad scheduling by the company.

      • Terry Swift

        Many jobs require that of their employees. While it’s stupid and seems the manager has no clue about scheduling – until you know the reasons behind it, you don’t know the REAL story. As a manager myself, not in a department store setting, but it still applies across the board – people go on vacation, use sick days, have doctors appointments, and the list goes on that may require someone who may close the store one night to open it the next day – if there is nobody else “qualified” to do so. If it happens on a very continual basis, why not simply ask the manager “WHY” instead of whining and complaining. It’s not their job to tell you why, but most good managers will give you a rational explanation for the issue.

        If not, find another job that is more hospitable to your needs. That’s as basic as it gets; since large businesses don’t typically care as much about those kinds of things – as they are in business to make money and sometimes people towards the bottom are the targets of less than great work hours, shifts and schedules – but the bottom line is that the business has to do what it needs to do to keep making money and provide you with a job.

        • Bob Brooks

          Terry – good common sense advice. The corporate environment is certainly not what it use to be! Thanks for commenting.

          Bob

        • Judith Nicole Parrish

          Definitely makes sense, Terry. Since I had an HR background prior to working for Target, I understood why I was scheduled when I was scheduled. I think there’s flaws that still need to be improved at both Target and the US Labor Laws. As you mentioned, I did find another job and encouraged other dissatisfied employees to do the same. Thank you for your advice!

      • Bob Brooks

        Crash – my question is how do you get a person’s best work when they are sleep deprived? Thanks for commenting

        Bob

        • crashtx1

          Exactly, and it can get dangerous depending on the type of work. Terry(below) takes an overly simplistic view. One common reason for bad scheduling is bad/lazy bosses(and possibly vindictive, petty, or clueless).

      • Judith Nicole Parrish

        I was definitely familiar with the ‘clopen’. It was schedule regularly for me. I think a person has to decide if your health and well being is worth simply doing your job. For me, it was not worth it. Target actually stressed me out so much and I’m not an easily stressed person. As an individual, I didn’t feel appreciated. As a manager, I tried changing the culture and show appreciation for the employees the frequently closed and opened with me – and understanding that for the moms and dads, it was especially difficult. That’s why I left Target! Wasn’t happy so I moved on.

    • Bob Brooks

      Judith

      Great Comments! It is good to get the perspective from someone who worked in a Walmart like environment. It just goes to show you how complex this issue can be. There are more questions than answers.

      Bob

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