An associate anonymously tell the precarious working conditions in the mega corporation.
Seven years ago the surce of income of this anonymous person is about $ 270 biweekly, which consumed almost entirely by just paying rent her home and her cell phone account. To have a little extra money, like many of her peers and colleagues, has had to resort to the Nutritional Assistance Program (PAN), the Unemployment Insurance government and the Section 8 program to finance its living place.
Her employer is Walmart, the largest private employer in Puerto Rico and the United States, a multimillion-dollar corporation also has expanded here and internationally by numerous exemptions and government subsidies. Who tells her story is one of more than 14,000 employees and employees that make up the army of workers who operated the megastore in our country.
“I’m part-time, I have more than seven years (working at Walmart) but they never given me a full-time. I am a lady of 60 years and I’m strong, I’m willing to work, “said the employee, whose identity will not be revealed, because” associates “of Walmart are prohibited from discussing their working with the media.
A few hours and no seniority
The contract gave Walmart is employed is 16 to 27 hours , but in practice more than 20 works , and in the times described as difficult , as there is the holiday season , Walmart management will reduce the working hours to 16 per week.
“There are people full -time and have taken the full -time over those who are part-time . There is no seniority . Some have resigned or been fired and what they do is that instead of giving me a full time or any other part time is hire more part-time employees. Those are some of the abuses that I see and that hurt us, “she” says.
Why the administration handled the hours like that? “I can not say specifically what they are based, but they really do not think about the employee, do not care about loyalty, the time we have, the work we do. They are based on that they have to have a certain amount payroll. A Walmart will suit more the part-time because they control the salary cuts some of tje benefits of them”replies the woman.
Among the more than 14,000 employees who have Walmart on the island, 55% are employed as part-time employees and 45% as full-time employees, said Bruni Torres, spokesman of Walmart Puerto Rico, in an interview with the Center for Investigative Journalism. Torres said the benefits of the corporation apply to all employees equally, among which highlighted a discount card for employees and their partners, whether they are cohabiting, unmarried or same sex. He also mentioned a plan 401 (K) to which the employee could contribute from 1-50% of each check, and Walmart contributes one dollar for every dollar contributed by the employee, up to a ceiling of 6% of their annual pay plan . Also mentioned a “compensation plan” which depends on employee performance, for which it makes an annual review, but Torres refused to elaborate on this plan and the “Book of Employee Benefit of 2012” (also applicable to Sam’s Club, owned by Walmart) that the ICC had access, he does not mention it.
Meanwhile, Ivan Baez, spokesman for corporate affairs, said that Walmart employees start winning over the federal minimum of $ 7.25 per hour and that the corporation has “exported talent,” referring to employees of Walmart Puerto Rico have gone to work Walmart US.
The conditions for obtaining benefits
In Puerto Rico there is no presence of labor unions or no unions at Walmart. This is not surprising, since any employee who belonged to it could not qualify for any benefits. The “philosophy of Walmart” in labor organization is:
“Walmart is firmly opposed to the representation of third parties. At Walmart, we respect the individual rights of our associates (employees) and we encourage everyone to express their ideas, suggestions, comments or concerns … It is our position that any Associate can speak for himself / herself without paying money They find it hard to win a union or union to be heard and that their problems are resolved. “
The “Employee Benefits Book of 2012” is a document of 155 pages for the exclusive use of the employees and management. There Walmart details the conditions to receive plan benefits as medical and dental insurance, disability plans, stock purchase plan and a 401 (K).
The benefits to which employees are eligible depend on the contract date and its rating in a payroll system of the company. Similarly, to be eligible for 401 (k) plan the employee must complete at least 1,000 hours of work during their first year of employment, among other conditions which vary benefit offered.
Therefore, it is not true that Walmart offers benefits that apply to all employees and employees alike.
An employee was hired on or after January 15, 2011, is eligible for the health plan if you work an average of 34 hours or more per week and is described as “full-time associate.” If you work an average of 24 to 33.9 hours per week and is described as “part-time associate”, is also eligible for benefits under the rules in force in 2012. However, if you work an average of less than 24 hours per week, even if it is described as “part-time associate” does not qualify.
The “Book of benefits” also shows that through the years Walmart has increased the number of hours required for an employee to be considered “full-time associate” or full-time worker.
Who were hired before September 1, 1979, they must work 20 hours a week; contracted between September 1, 1979 and December 31, 2001, they must work 28 hours per week; while hired on or after January 2002 must work to qualify as “full-time associates” 34 hours.
Alice Hines and Christina Wilkie, researchers of the Huffington Post, obtained an internal document of the corporation that reveals a plan to pay wages for the fiscal year 2013. The document describes a payment structure organized into seven “levels of difficulty” in which each higher level of pay is between 20-40 cents higher than the previous level. “This means that the base rate to a higher position compensation per hour Walmart is $ 1.70 more than the lowest paying position”, explained the journalists Huff Post. This document was prepared for Sam’s Club employees, but 32 employees interviewed by this means confirmed that is also used in Walmart.
Another associate speaks
“In a few months I fulfill ten years as a sales associate; earn $ 9.30 an hour. Walmart has never paid the minimum [pay more]. The wage increases with an evaluation program in three years. But I’ve been here nine years as a part time and I work 16 hours a week “she said.
I’m 50 years old and I feel indignant, he speaks calmly, like the other employee interviewed tone. At some point I was working full-time at Walmart, says that since he started working there the situation has changed a lot and has twice had to resort to a second job to survive.
“I depend on my own,” he says of his salary, “but I pay for an apartment, my car payment … I was getting the help of coupons (Nutrition Assistance Plan) for one year, but I removed them because these people ( Walmart) from time to time put you to work longer hours for the seasons, and when you have the interview (the Department of the Family) you don’t qualify. ”
The situation of the low wages force employees of Walmart to use government programs or a second or third job to survive, it has been consistently reported by many media and by various organizations in the United States. A study by the Committee on Education and the Workforce of the Democratic Party, for example, indicates that Walmart wages are so low that many employees depend on Nutrition Assistance Program (food stamps) and other government programs to survive . The report denounces the “low wages, benefits and aggressive insignificant to negotiate with employees rejection” of Walmart.
Working conditions as those describing the workers interviewed by the ICC, led the first strike , hiring freezes of Walmart be held in October 2012
Protests and civil disobedience were repeated during Black Friday last year with more than 50 arrests of employees in Los Angeles, California. Workers organized in the United States require that Walmart pay them at least $ 25,000 a year.
“There are up to (employees) full-time with other work and almost all part-time, except the girls who study, most had two jobs. And most of the men working over-time, night shift, these men have a day job because the part time at Walmart is not sufficient to their needs. I do not understand how the government encourages or as the government struggle with Walmart, “the employee.
In his testimony he also described a labor practice that earned Walmart disqualification to underperform from market perform by the US firm Wolfe Research. The reasons for that reviewed in various media disqualification were understaffed in stores, loss of competitiveness of their prices and costs associated with the intensification of pressure on the workers’ organizations that exist in Walmart stores in the United States.
The analysis of this firm adds that Walmart’s workforce has been reduced by 120,000 in the last five years, although they have opened more stores. Moreover, a report in the Chicago Tribune supported by a survey conducted in 52 Walmart stores last year, revealed that staff megastore has remained relatively equal in number of employees as the corporation has been expanding.
“When you come at Walmart you sign a contract, and you go to a department, and they moved you to another because it is on the same line. But I did not go to a cashier, and what they said is ‘you take it or take it’. You’ll spend two weeks without training without nothing. And it is very unfair to cashiers , they have an incentive of 35 cents more, and give training and everything. And that incentive not to be paid; can be a week or two cashier without that incentive to be cash, “says the employee. “They are not machines and we always bring us to the floor to get into the crash register when is rush,” said meanwhile the other interviewee used.
The consequences of these employers strategies ,Democrats report entitled The Low Wage Drag on Our Economy, explains that “although employers and Walmart looking to gain significant benefits through depreciation of labor costs, the social costs of that strategy They outsourced so that not only affects workers and their families but also to taxpayers. ”
The study notes, moreover, that “income inequality is more extreme today than at any point since the Great Depression, with a cap of 1% of people receiving 93% of the income earned in recovery. In the third quarter of 2012, the corporate income reached $ 1.75 trillion, the largest share of gross domestic product in history. During the same period, the income of workers fell to the lowest level of GDP in history. ”
The first employee interviewed in this story took the initiative to contact the Center for Investigative Journalism to discuss their working conditions and said Walmart makes meetings once a week or twice a month to inform their employees about store sales .
“One time they said, ‘ We did five million ‘ . And I said , ‘ but how can you invite me to a meeting to say that five million won and you have me working 16 hours,’ “says the employee.
“My day ends at one o’clock . You have to organize the mess in the sales floor, fold all tees, organize them by size and color , customer service, plus everything left in other departments. In short, at one o’clock I have to leave the department ready ” he concludes.
Article by por Joel Cintrón Arbasetti