Last week, we received an email from a current Walmart manager in Oklahoma asking to share his story. Below is his description of the policies that America's largest employer uses to pit managers against low-level employees, for the benefit of the richest family in America.
Walmart, a $245 billion company with two million employees and a harsh record of union-busting, has been the subject of nationwide protests by its own workers, who seek higher wages and better working conditions. Today's Walmart manager describes—in emails published below—how the company incentivizes its managers to keep employees from getting enough hours to make a decent living. The company does this even at the expense of understaffing its stores. These issues ring true—they have been described to us before, from the perspective of both a manager and an employee.
This is an illustration of why a large portion of the American work force will never achieve economic independence no matter how hard they try.
I've witnessed so many Labor Violations I couldn't even remember them all. At Walmart I am in charge of the front end—basically all of the registers and self checkouts. Recently I've had to cut many of my Cashiers hours and as a result less registers have been open which means longer lines. We've even had to make many cashiers not take their 15 minute break. I've also had to work 60 hour weeks while not receiving any overtime pay. I don't think Walmart should be able to use the lack of overtime laws to exploit their low paid salaried managers.
I started at Walmart about a year ago. I have previously been a manager at [different store] and Walmart seemed like it would be a nice change of pace. I was hired on as an Assistant Manager(AM) where I had to undergo an 8 week training course to learn the job. I ended up being assigned to a Walmart Store in Oklahoma. I quickly found out my jobs duties were going to be different than I expected. Management decided that I was going to be the Assistant Manager over Electronics which was an area I was familiar with and enjoyed. The job I thought would mostly be doing paperwork, providing guidance for associates and overseeing major projects. I ended up working 65 hour weeks (which has been hard on my family) doing tasks such as stocking shelves, running a register, while also being responsible for electronics. Since I make more than $23,000 a year Walmart was not required to pay me overtime.
It's become obvious to me that Walmart purposefully does this to make up for the chronic under-staffing. I've often had to cut associates hours in order to ensure that all of the salaried managers would receive our annual bonuses. This practice is one of the most corrupt Walmart uses—they tie the payroll costs to salaried managers bonuses. Mine is $20,000 while a store manager's is $100,000.
Many people would be surprised by Walmart's pay structure. A store manager makes a salary of about 80,000 to 110,000 a year. Which might sound good to average people but is peanuts to them. Their pay can get doubled if they meet certain criteria. A huge part of it is keeping your payroll costs down. Which means gradually forcing the long time employees out. And replacing them with temporary workers, who are not eligible for healthcare, time off, or even a discount card. Most of these people start off at $7.90 an hour and are already on public assistance. That ends up backfiring because the new hires most of them end up quitting within a month. The whole culture of Walmart rewards people who know the unwritten rules of Walmart. Some of these rules are: managers can almost never eat in the breakroom, never socialize too much with a lower level employee, and keep most things secret from them.
Eventually I was transferred to be an [assistant manager] over the front end which includes all of the registers, Self Checkouts, Customer Service Desk, and the Jewelry counter. At this job I've had to disproportionately cut the hours of the elderly who often make $15 an hour in order to preserve the hours of the others who make $8 an hour. I've recently witnessed with the recent decline in same-store sales Walmart has become increasingly desperate and in-denial about how to fix the issue. We've basically been forced to be ultra strict with associates and if they get caught stealing time by goofing off for 5 minutes, it's an automatic written reprimand. Turnover has been increasing at my store at an alarming rate which is by design because Walmart has decided that they want you to stay for 1 year and become a manager or leave. Due to this turnover we've had to accept some less than satisfactory candidates. I've decided that the best way to solve these problems is to bring in 3rd party representation (Our Walmart) [an organized labor group for Walmart employees] and my hope is that Our Walmart will be able to persuade Walmart Corporate to agree to a living wage and more hours for Walmart Associates.
[If you're a Walmart employee who would like to share your story, email Hamilton@Gawker.com. Photo via Getty]