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Wednesday, June 15, 2005

All Your Life Is Belong To Us
Posted by Jill | 10:29 AM

Wal-Mart Family Values:

Wal-Mart officials in Cross Lanes told employees on Tuesday they have to start working practically any shift, any day they’re asked, even if they’ve built up years of seniority and can’t arrange child care.

Store management said the policy change is needed to keep enough staff at the busiest hours, but some employees said it appears to be an attempt to force out longer-term, higher-paid workers.

“We have many people with set schedules who aren’t here when we need them for our customers,” said John Knuckles, a manager at the store, which is located in the Nitro Marketplace shopping center and employs more than 400.

“It is to take care of the customers, that’s the only reason,” he said.

Workers who have had regular shifts at the store for years now have to commit to being available for any shift from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m., seven days a week. If they can’t make the commitment by the end of this week, they’ll be fired.

“It shouldn’t cause any problem, if they [store employees] are concerned about their customers,” Knuckles said.

Several single mothers working at the store have no choice now but to quit, said one employee, who would not give her name for fear of retribution.

“My day care closes at 6 and my baby sitter can’t work past 5,” said the employee, a mother of two who has been a cashier for more than three years. Neither of the services is available over the weekends, she added. “I have to be terminated; I don’t know what I’ll do.”

“Wal-Mart is supposed to be a family-oriented company, but kids don’t matter,” the worker said.

Along with the “open-availability” policy, the store is requiring all floor employees to learn how to run cash registers, several employees said. They suspect this is an attempt to brace for the departure of many of the employees who now work as cashiers.

When announcing the new policies, store managers said they expected to lose about 60 people, according to another employee who asked not to be named.

“They said sales were down so much, they had to make a change,” the worker said. “The past year they’ve really been nitpicking” longer-term employees, who are paid more.

Now, think about that for a minute. Wal-Mart is demanding that all its employees be on call, ready at the drop of a hat to come to work, from 7 AM to 11 PM, seven days a week -- or get fired. This means you can't get theatre tickets or tickets to take your kid to a ball game (assuming you can afford such tickets on a Wal-Mart salary), you can't make any kind of leisure plans at all, and you sure as hell can't plan for child care if you work for Wal-Mart.

Are YOU on call from 7 AM to 11 PM seven days a week? (Mr. Brilliant is exempted from answering that question.)

This is the kind of workplace the Bush Administration and their Republican friends want. As more and more manufacturing and professional-level jobs are shipped overseas, and fewer and fewer people other than the very wealthy can continue the consumption that has become the hallmark of American society, we're going to see more and more squeezing of the workers to feed the coffers of wealthy shareholders and corporate owners. It's American Sweatshop, 2005 version, and it's where we're all headed if Republicans have their way.
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