On Thursday, Walmart Once Again Proved What an Unethical, Full of B.S. Company It Is

Once upon a time, I worked for Sam’s Club, which is owned by Walmart. When Forward Progressives first launched, I still had a lot of ties to my days working there, which meant I got quite a few “inside stories” as to how the company was operating internally.

Such as an article I wrote exposing how Walmart sent out an email instructing Sam’s Clubs not to allow their part-time employees to go over 24 hours as a way to avoid having to pay them any sort of benefits.

Here’s part of what I wrote at that time:

What this does is ensure part-time associates are prevented from hitting that magic 24 hour average which would qualify them for minimum benefits.

They’re not scheduling associates for two or three 8 hour shifts — oh no, they’re scheduling them four or five 4 hour shifts. They’re still working associates the equivalent of a 5 day workweek, just drastically reducing their hours.  So they’re making it very difficult for these associates to even get a second job.

Then if you want to get the max 23.99 hours per week, you’ll need open availability — otherwise you might end up being scheduled zero hours, which has already happened to a few associates at my source’s club. Yes, you’ve read that right, there are people who “work” for Walmart that are now getting scheduled absolutely no hours simply because their new scheduling system is set around open availability and punishes those who might have a limited schedule.

So what Walmart is wanting is for their part-time employees to have wide-open availability, yet work less than 24 hours per week.

And if you happen to be scheduled, say, 22 or 23 hours and want to pick up more — nope, you won’t be allowed.

Keep in mind, this is also a company that had to setup a system where associates were literally locked out of any operating system (handheld, register, computer) if they didn’t clock out for at least 30 minutes after working six hours. This was a procedure put in place after the company faced lawsuits in the past for working employees long hours without giving them the legally-mandated amount of lunch/break time.

I also wrote an article a few weeks before the one I mentioned above when one of my sources told me about a new scheduling method that was being called “Member Needs Scheduling.” It was effectively a way to avoid the regulations put in place by Obamacare to avoid allowing associates to reach the 30-hour weekly average threshold that would require the company cover at least some of their health care needs.

From that article:

Anyone hired after Feb. 1, 2012, that doesn’t average 30 hours per week, lost their health care benefits this past January. Part-time workers hired after Jan. 15, 2011, but before Feb. 1, 2012, kept their Walmart benefits if they work a minimum of 24 hours a week.

And that’s where “Member Needs Scheduling” comes in. What this system does is schedule very short shifts for nearly every part-time employee. It apparently schedules most 5 days a week for 4 hour shifts. This is key because you need permission to work 6 or more days per week — Walmart requires 2 days off every week due to past legal issues.

But good luck picking up shifts when nearly everyone is fighting for hours as it is.

What all of this means is employees are often scheduled the max amount of days allowed, at 4 hours per day, totaling 20 hours per week. Which would place most of them below the required threshold for Walmart to provide health benefits.

While both of those articles were written nearly five years ago, I bring them up now to address another prime example of what an unethical and immoral company Walmart is.

On Thursday the company put out a huge PR release to announce that they were going to raise their minimum wage to $11 per hour, while giving out bonuses of up to $1,000.

Let me just go ahead and address a few things really quickly.

For starters, $11 per hour is still not a “living wage.” That’s only $440 per week, $1,907 per month, or about $22,800 per year — before taxes. So while it’s nice to see Walmart finally raising wages, let’s not act as if $11 per hour is going to provide most of their employees with an actual living wage.

Furthermore, this still doesn’t address the problem of Walmart running their various stores, clubs, and distribution centers with part-time employees who are being denied any sort of benefits.

As for the up to $1,000 bonuses, trust me when I say that the vast majority of associates who get any type of a bonus will not be getting anywhere close to $1,000. Whenever any company promises something up to a certain level, that’s nothing but a marketing ploy. It’s like when car dealerships advertise vehicles for “under $30,000!” — when the sticker is $29,999.

Though the story gets even worse. On the very same day Walmart announced this hike in their company’s minimum wage, Sam’s Club (which, again, is owned by Walmart) announced they were closing 63 clubs. Some employees reported showing up to work, only to be told they no longer had a job.

While some employees have been offered the opportunity to transfer, and some of the clubs will be converted to distribution centers, these closures are still likely to lead to thousands of employees being without a job.

And don’t think that Walmart’s announcement that they were raising their company’s minimum wage on the same day that these clubs announced that they were closing is a coincidence, either.

I also wouldn’t be shocked, and this is just my opinion based on what I know from working for the company, if Walmart “balanced out” much of the added expenses of raising the company’s minimum wage and these “up to” $1,000 bonuses by cutting benefits, hours, and full-time positions.

Moreover, it’s important to keep in mind that while Walmart’s crediting Donald Trump’s recent tax cut for their sudden “generosity,” this moderate increase in wages, as well as almost certainly a one-time bonus, is just a fraction of the billions of dollars the company will be handed from the reduction in their taxes. I’d also like to point out that, in 2016, Walmart made $123.89 billion in income. So let’s not act as if they, or any other company citing Trump’s tax cuts for why they’re handing out one-time bonuses or slightly increasing wages, couldn’t have done any of that long ago.

This is all nothing more than their attempt to push some good PR, hoping people are distracted from the fact that, while they comically boast about slight increases in wages, or one-time (key part of that) bonuses, the overwhelming majority of the cumulative trillions of dollars all of these companies and wealthy individuals are going to save over the next few years from these tax cuts are going to go right into their own pockets — just like we’ve seen since the dawn of trickle-down economics nearly four decades ago.

Meanwhile, while some companies have used this opportunity to seize on some good PR to brag about the “benefits” they claim their employees will get due to these tax cuts, the fact is, back in November, when the Director of National Economic Council Gary Cohn attended The Wall Street Journal’s CEO Council, the moderator asked those in attendance to raise their hands if they were planning to increase their business investment if Trump’s tax plan was passed — only a few did so, prompting Cohn to ask, “Why aren’t the other hands up?”

Just like we’ve seen since trickle-down economics was first forced upon us, the overwhelming majority of the money is going to go into the pockets and offshore bank accounts of the Top 2%, while poor and middle class Americans get stuck paying for them as they fall further and further behind.

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Allen Clifton

Allen Clifton is a native Texan who now lives in the Austin area. He has a degree in Political Science from Sam Houston State University. Allen is a co-founder of Forward Progressives and creator of the popular Right Off A Cliff column and Facebook page. Be sure to follow Allen on Twitter and Facebook, and subscribe to his channel on YouTube as well.


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