Monday, October 02, 2006

No Free Lunch at Wal-Mart

Slacker Sally Threatens Our Collective Standard of Living

Four dollar prescriptions at Wal-Mart seemed like a hell of a deal. And they probably are. But like the DVD players sells for 25 bucks, there's a moral catch. Where is Wal-Mart looking to increase its stagnant or declining profit margins? The NYTimes points the finger:

Wal-Mart to Add Wage Caps and Part-Timers

Wal-Mart, the nation’s largest private employer, is pushing to create a cheaper, more flexible work force by capping wages, using more part-time workers and scheduling more workers on nights and weekends.

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Investment analysts and store managers say Wal-Mart executives have told them the company wants to transform its work force to 40 percent part-time from 20 percent. Wal-Mart denies it has a goal of 40 percent part-time workers, although company officials say that part-timers now make up 25 percent to 30 percent of workers, up from 20 percent last October.

To some extent, Wal-Mart is simply doing what business strategists recommend: deploying workers more effectively to meet the peaks and valleys of business in their stores. Wall Street, which has put pressure on Wal-Mart to raise its stock price, has endorsed the strategy, with analysts praising the new approach to managing its workers. In the last three years, the stock price has fallen about 10 percent, closing at $49.32 a share on Friday.

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But Sally Wright, 67, an $11-an-hour greeter at the Wal-Mart in Ponca City, Okla., said she quit in August after 22 years with the company when managers pressed her to make herself available to work any time, day or night. She requested staying on the day shift, but her manager reduced her schedule from 32 hours a week to 8 and refused her pleas for more hours, she said.

“They were trying to get rid of me,” Ms. Wright said. “I think it was to save on health insurance and on the wages.”

Wal-Mart vigorously denies it is pushing out longtime or full-time employees and says its moves will ensure its competitiveness. The company says it gives employees three weeks’ notice of their schedules and takes their preferences into account, but that description differs from those of many workers interviewed. Workers said that their preferences were often ignored and that they were often given only a few days’ notice of scheduling changes.

Look, Sally and you other greeters, if you aren't on call almost 24 hours a day, I can't get the four buck generics and swing the 25 buck DVD player. And more importantly, my retirement portfolio won't earn enough to keep me from being......a Wal-Mart greeter on-call 24/7 when I'm 67.

Get it in gear Sally!