“You can’t pay your bills with $ 12 an hour”: Walmart employees excluded from increases | Walmart

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Mendy Hughes, 46, worked for 11 years as a cashier for Walmart in Melbourne, Arkansas.

His hourly wage, after a recent increase, is $ 12.85 an hour, just 85 cents more than the starting hourly wage for new hires despite his 11 years with the company.

“You can’t pay your bills, rent and buy groceries on $ 12 an hour. I don’t think anywhere in the United States you can do that. Not at all, ”said Hughes, a member of the United for Respect campaign group. “I don’t understand how they think $ 12 an hour is enough to live on, because it’s not at all.”

As the largest employer in the United States with nearly 1.6 million workers, Walmart has been criticized for years for low wages, working conditions, reliance on retaining part-time workers, and salary theft.

Walmart announced in September that the company would increase the minimum wage at Sam’s Club establishments from $ 11 to $ 15 an hour, but Walmart employees were excluded because the parent company raised the minimum wage from $ 11 to only $ 12 an hour for Walmart workers. Earlier this year, Walmart announced it would raise the wages of 425,000 employees to $ 13 an hour, noting that it would raise the company’s average hourly wage to more than $ 15 an hour.

But thousands of Walmart employees are still struggling to make ends meet with low wages, and many are now speaking up to agitate and campaign for a pay raise. Walmart workers who are members of United for Respect for Walmart are pushing for a minimum wage of $ 15 in the company.

Diabetic with four children, Hughes continued to work throughout the pandemic. She said working conditions had deteriorated due to the lack of Covid protections and customers voicing their frustrations to staff over missing products, understaffing and Covid protocols.

“We never have enough people,” said Hughes. “We have long queues, people are backed up to the clothes and sometimes rolled up, because there are maybe two or three, sometimes just one cashier, and the ATMs are card-only so people who can’t use them are crazy and it’s hard to deal with people now.

In recent years, Walmart’s competitors have raised their minimum hourly wages to $ 15 an hour, including Target in 2020, Amazon in 2018, and Costco to $ 17 an hour in 2021.

In fiscal 2021, Walmart reported a profit of more than $ 13.5 billion. In February, Walmart’s board of directors approved another $ 20 billion share buyback program. From November 2020 to the end of January 2021, Walmart repurchased more than 10 million shares of the company at more than $ 140 per share, spending more than $ 1.4 billion.

Walmart is owned by the Walton family, the richest family in the world, with an estimated net worth of around $ 238 billion. During the pandemic, Alice, Jim and Rob Walton saw their net worth soar by more than $ 10 billion each.

Anna Turner worked at Walmart in Stockton, Calif., For more than eight years as a receptionist and customer service associate before being fired in January, after spending months complaining to the Walmart company, the management of its California Osha store and Walmart poverty. Responses to Covid.

During her job at Walmart, Turner noted that she made less than $ 15 an hour and had never been hired full time, although she said her service was chronically under -effective.

“After eight and a half years working in the toughest part of my store, I was making just under $ 15 an hour part-time. They were always cutting back our hours so we couldn’t get full-time and health benefits, ”said Turner, who relied on Medi-Cal for health insurance through his job at Walmart.

“I was fired for not lying about my Covid-19 health and temperature assessments. It was the last thing I said to management the day things started that ultimately led to my dismissal, ”said Turner, who said she was fired after an incident where she was terminated. had to take a break after suffering an anxiety attack when a customer threatened to assault her for trying to return an item. “This place has given me such severe panic attacks and I have been regularly abused because of the situation Walmart created by not staffing this department.”

In the first nine months of the pandemic, Walmart provided only a fraction of its Covid profits to workers in the form of risk premium and additional compensation, according to a Brookings Institute analysis. Waltons’ net worth increased 26 times more than the cost of Covid compensation for Walmart workers, estimated at 71 cents an hour in extra pay for workers, against a 6.2 million increase in wealth dollars an hour for the Waltons.

A research brief by Human Impact Partners published in October found that an increase in the minimum wage of $ 5 per hour for workers at Walmart would improve the mental and physical health of workers, including increased lifespan by nearly two years.

“Walmart is the largest private employer in the country, they employ more women and people of color than any other employer in the country. So they have a great interest in setting the tone for racial equity in our country and financial security as well, ”said Sukhdip Purewal Boparai, research project director at Human Impact Partners and author of the dissertation. “Walmart can really set the stage and change the lives of the people who work for them, especially during the pandemic, because they are putting their lives at risk. “

Peter Naughton, cashier and checkout host at Walmart in Baton Rouge, Louisiana for two years, recently saw his hourly wage drop from $ 11.55 to $ 12.55 an hour with the new wage increases company-wide. But Naughton said the increase didn’t go far enough, and he criticized Walmart for removing the quarterly MyShare bonuses for all employees, which often provided workers with a few hundred extra dollars every three months.

“A $ 1 an hour increase doesn’t help. We have less money now with a $ 1 raise than before, ”Naughton said. “Walmart could increase our wages to $ 15, $ 18, even $ 20 an hour, but they don’t want to, out of greed. Walmart is the most government subsidized company in America.

He said many of his colleagues have extra jobs and depend on Snap, rent subsidies and other government assistance programs to make ends meet. In many states, Walmart is the number one employer for Medicaid and Snap recipients.

In April 2021, Naughton had to move out of his apartment and move in with his parents because he couldn’t pay rent and other salary bills at Walmart.

“I couldn’t pay the rent, the utilities. I couldn’t afford to buy food or pay my car bill and my insurance at the same time, ”Naughton added. “If they increased our pay to $ 15 an hour, that would help us have more money to spend. They could actually afford to do it. But they don’t want to do this. It really is a question of money.


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