Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Everyone Loves a Snow Day

The close of the busy Christmas season brought an abrupt about-face for WAL-MART. Rather than seeking to squeeze more hours out of its employees the store began to find ways cut their hours whenever possible. Almost across the board, associates saw their schedule trimmed down by 2-4 hours every week; mine were cut on the high-end of this range. The store may only be saving itself $15-$30, but this can make a difference to people who are already struggling to make ends meet. Also, who gets their hours cut can be fairly arbitrary: one of the older male cashiers noted how his hours hadn’t changed while the four longest tenured female cashiers had lost hours. As I mentioned in an earlier post, he attributed this not to gender discrimination, but to his being in the good graces of his supervisors and not complaining quite as much as the women did.

Another way of limiting hours is to send people home early. If sales were down for the week, or even the day, managers would get the word from above (both inside the store and from the home office) to trim payroll expenses in an effort to off-set the loss. “We are supposed to send people home as long as it won’t hurt us,” one of the Customer Service Manager’s confided in me candidly. To be fair, many of the associates will want to get the hell out of there, a request which the managers are only too happy to oblige. One of the cashiers put this inner struggle best: “Want to [leave], but can’t afford to.” I would always fight being sent home early no matter how badly I wanted to leave, since I had been lobbying for full-time hours from the beginning. This didn’t make much of a difference and I was routinely sent home anywhere from 30-90 minutes early. One time they even tried to send me home half-way through my four-hour shift, but my favorite CSM relented when I protested it wouldn’t even have been worth the price of gas to come in. “We can’t cut hours that have already been cut” she agreed sympathetically.

Snowstorms presented management with a golden opportunity to trim hours. Claiming their hands were tied, they would note that sales were down 51% for the day from the previous year (a foolish statistic since there are snowstorms that keep customers away every year.) Nevertheless, with their cover in place, an assistant manager would page on the hour that all sales floor associates would be capped at six-hour shifts, no exceptions. On top of this, there could be dozens of call-outs in anticipation of the bad weather. It should come as no surprise then that management would okay the call-out without putting up a fight. Obviously there was a downside to this strategy since often times the skeleton crew that remained would be swamped with all the slack they had to pick up. One morning a CSM was griping about being short-handed and the long lines that were gathering at her only three open registers. So I was surprised to go back to the break room and find a friend just sitting there since she had mistakenly thought her shift started two hours earlier than it did. I dutifully told that same CSM that I had found the solution to her problems, only to discover that she was the one that told her to wait back there. At that point I stopped feeling sorry for the CSM.

But these methods for cutting hours are small fish compared to their ultimate strategy: keep as many workers part-time (or as they call it, peak-time) as possible. As I mentioned, I had trying since my first interview to gain full-time status unsuccessfully. When they were desperate for people they would magnanimously throw me an extra hour or two, as long as it didn’t result in overtime… that had to be specifically authorized by management. I couldn’t help but be amused when a fellow temporary hire cashier resolved to me stupidly, “I have to get my full-time hours back.” “Good luck” quipped a manager from personnel, realizing as I did the remoteness of this possibility. Indeed, one of the veterans told me that the company never moves people to full-time if they are hired as part-time; you are better off quitting and trying to get hired again. I took a tally one day of the schedule posted on the wall, which revealed that 119 of the 385 scheduled hourly workers were part-time, or 30%. By purposefully hiring and keeping more workers part-time, like myself, WAL-MART also saves itself the expense of paying benefits. It is our problem to try to live off this pittance of a sum.

16 comments:

Panthère rousse said...

I read every one of your posts. I find it very interesting. Particularly their way of keeping people from reporting accidents and the fact that the management is able to get employees to think that "chicken and potatoes" is a reward worth fighting for...

Anonymous said...

I have worked for Walmart for 10 years and they are cutting my hours so deep I am having trouble maintaining my FT status. Am sure the reason is they don't want to pay those wonderful benefits(lol)
When I first went to work for them they were great now my opinion is they are terrible. Creating problems between their employees and cutting hours to get rid of employees of older age and health problems. Sad they have gone down so far.
Linda

Anonymous said...

I worked for Wal-Mart for 5 years. I started out at a distribution center (worked 4 1/2 years there) but had to transfer to a store across the state due to family issues. I never understood the gripes about Wal-Mart until I worked at the store.

I got paid less than 1/2 my pay for doing 3 time the work I did at the DC. The managers were outright rude to associates, even in front of customers. I was a night stocker, and was continously sent home early when I finished with my designated aisle. Several times I had volunteered to help out those that took longer, but was told no dice. It was a major struggle just making ends meet.

I ended up just quitting because I couldn't stand the attitudes of pretty much everyone that worked there. Rarely would you hear a word of encouragement, but they were quick to criticize any small mistake you made.

When I saw yout title, I thought of "Code Silver." This is where everyone is sent out (usually freezing COLD) to retrieve carts. They had nobody doign carts after 9 PM, so we had to go out to get them in the parking lot (sometimes several times a night). I never figured out why they couldn't hire just ONE person to do this all night instead of taking us away from our work. If this took an hour or so, we were scrambling to get finished before quitting time (no OT obv).

It almost makes me wish I had never transfered in the first place and found another solution. The atmosphere in the DC and the store were like night and day.

Anonymous said...

i cant believe you feel u do 3 time the work at a store than you did at dc. i work at a dc in mich. and every job has a rate which some days seems almost unachievable. but every time i go to a walmart store i see multiple associates standing around talking to each other. doing nothing. thats why they get payed 1/3rd we do at the dc. you must have been a pe driver or a supervisor at the dc (the jobs were u don't do much)

Anonymous said...

I have worked at WalMart as a Department Manager for 9 years, and now all of a sudden my hours are being cut to 15 hours a week one week 37 hours another week and 24 hours another week. I will not quit, because thaqt is what they want since I make over $16.00 a hour. But I will file for unemployment and play their game.I will also be the first one to sign up for the union when they come to my store

Anonymous said...

got an interview at a dc tues any advice going in from you vets??

Dave said...

Yea this is really old but I have to comment...
They cannot make you clock out before your scheduled time due to law, and they also cannot make you stay past it.

javieth said...

I must to say i love the snow, the cold climate, although i´m not a child anymore i remember my happy childhood and all the beutiful time that i spent with all my friends. Now when is snowing i prefer to spend my time with my boyfriend, most of all that he decided to buy viagra, we enjoy all the time.

Anonymous said...

Haha to the one that left the comment about "Code Silver" being that you retrieved carts in the freezing cold, because we used to have an assistant manager that would make an announcement to those of us on overnights the same time every day (around 4am), to go out into the cold to get all of the carts... I think he must have been the only one that had THAT code!

Anonymous said...

I think it should be noted here that Walmart also seems to take advantage of those who are in college too, by offering to send them home early because they know that college people have homework to do...

They have been cutting our hours like crazy too, I'm around "peak time" hours and I am normally FT at our store. It's also very hard for them to understand anything about transferring to days because of being harassed by male coworkers on night shift, being in college and needing day hours to compensate for the loss of sleep and more flexibility with schedule and having health problems as well. I'm on anti-depressants and sleeping pills from my doctor because of working nights. Thanks a lot, Walmart!

Anonymous said...

They send me out at midnight to pull in carts , I work night maintenace , stripping floors , worse thing they could ever do , i pushed the carts in one by one, freezing cold and icy, took my time , so they got nothing done that night.If it was too dangerous for the day time person to move carts why did they expect me to do it when its dark , colder and just as icy. FU walmart.

Anonymous said...

I will be with Wal-mart 10 years this year, and I am a full time employee...They are shafting us, a multibillion dollar company being grinches.. I am suppossed to get 40 hours. I understand January your hours get cut every year because it is slow..Well it is going on March now and my schedule is still cut one to two days not including the two days I have off normally. And They claim to be for the family (wee lovve your family) sure!! Well
prove it, You cut my damn hours and work me to death, Then you go and raise my insurance 100 dollars more so now I am paying $288.00 every two weeks! Get real and if they keep cutting my hours I will be demoted to part time..I went to unemployment and they told me sorry you should have come the beginning of January, we can only go back two weeks so I was like ok. but then they sent me a paper and said call by this date but it already passed, so Yes screwed again!! Learn from this apply for unemployment in December like I am going to!!

And yes the associates and Managers are rude to other associates. They are only for themselves...

How am I to support my three children and pay the bills!! I am going to lose my house if this continues!

so yes thank you Wal-mart for
f---ing me! I have done nothing but work my tail off for you and you repay me by not paying me and also thank you for my bad back from standing on your hard floors, and lifting your heavy boxes off your pallets.

Wal-Mart Needs to get excellent insurance one that is inexpensive for the whole family..

My mother had Aetna where she worked and her company had an excellent policy where it was only like 50 dollars a paycheck... So if you truly care fix that...

Sorry you didn't make your 2 billion instead on 1...I am positivbe you can afford to help your hard working employees, They are the ones keeping you rich.

Anonymous said...

I work at a walmart in Ky, our situation is much the same as the rest mentioned here. I am also a college student, and I have worked for walmart for 5 years. I am a part-time associate. Our hours are being cut dramtically, It is common for them to technically scedual people in all the departments, then pull all but one associate to run register up front, or to unload,or to pull carts or some other task. More times than not it is one associate running 3/4 of the store. We do not get paid well, and male associates do seem to be at an advantage..and are more likely to be given full time status. While I am available 40 hrs a week, I am only schedualed for about 20 hrs. sometimes even less..last year I had a week where I was given 9 hrs. I picked up another associates unwanted hours for two days. They say we are not making money, but this is because the customers are becoming disatisfied shopping in a store where the associates are few, and when they do find us, we are in such a hurry we can not spend time assisting like we are supposed to do. Department areas are so large that we could have customers waiting for 20 minutes to be assisted while we are zoning another part of the department. Also favortism is rampent. I average $180 a week before taxes and insurance come out of my check, I honestly can not live on this...and I do not qualify for food stamps or government assiatance.

Anonymous said...

Walmart's CEO made over 19 Million dollars last year, that's why we're getting our hours cut.

Anonymous said...

I have worked for WMart for nearly 20 years part-time & never wanted full-time because I have a day job but I count on my job at WM to pay certain bills & I'm a reliable worker who never calls in. Me & 2 other workers (who also have day jobs & have been there a long time) seem to be getting cut a lot in recent weeks. I don't remember ever being cut hours because we were getting "holiday pay" for Labor Day. I had even requested that night off (without pay) & I still only got 2 nights to work. Me smells a rat.

Anonymous said...

Been working at walmart 3 years still part time..was getting 34 now we get 16 to 22 hrs...help