by: Jeffrey Dorfman – Contributor
originally posted on Forbes
December 11, 2014
Walmart is the employer that unions and many workers-rights advocates love to hate. Yet, when Walmart opens up new stores, they typically receive thousands of applicants competing for the few hundred jobs available. If Walmart is as horrible employer as often claimed, why do so many people want to work there? The answer is that the thousands who want to work at Walmart know more about working at Walmart than those continually protesting against it.
Many misconceptions about Walmart’s pay and benefits are based on data that people have inferred from partial information that is available publicly, not from a full and complete picture of their compensation package. (Full disclosure: I received funding from the National Retail Federation Foundation to study wages in the retail industry. As part of that study, I received data from Walmart on their pay practices. However, Walmart had no role in the writing of this column.)
Here are the facts about working at Walmart. The average hourly associate has a total compensation package of $14.50 per hour. Full-time hourly associates make an average of $12.94 per hour in wages. On top of the pay, hourly associates receive quarterly bonuses based on store performance that average $580 per year. Employees are eligible for health insurance and, if they choose to sign up for it, Walmart pays 75 percent of the premium cost.
Hourly associates all can contribute to a 401(k) retirement plan and Walmart matches employee contributions for the first 6 percent of each employee’s pay. Employees can also buy company stock and Walmart will match those purchases with shares equal to 15 percent of those purchased by the employees. Finally, employees all receive an employee discount of 10 percent off on purchases at Walmart.
All of these benefits together can add up to the equivalent of $4.50 per hour, meaning that an average full-time hourly associate could have total compensation of about $17.40 per hour or about $35,000 per year.
In addition to these figures, it is worth noting that annual raises for hourly associates have averaged more than 3 percent per year over the past eight years which includes the recent recession when raises for most workers have been few and far between. About 160,000 associates get promoted each year with 7,000 hourly associates entering management ranks annually. More than three-quarters of all Walmart store managers started as hourly associates.
Does all this make Walmart a worker’s paradise? That depends on how much you are making in your current job (if you have one) and what benefits come with that current job position. A significant number of workers make less than $15 per hour in total compensation, so there are lots of people who would see Walmart’s pay package as a step up. The enormous number of applications Walmart receives for each new store opening seems to indicate that is true: lots of people want to work at Walmart.
Given all this, why are so many people so deeply invested in fighting Walmart store openings and complaining about their pay policies? Several reasons seem to be in play. First, much of the protesting is organized by unions who are actually much more interested in gaining the opportunity to collect union dues from Walmart’s workers than they are in raising the wages of the people working at Walmart. Second, many people honestly complain about pay at Walmart because they have been misled about what Walmart really pays. They assume almost all the associates are making minimum wage or slightly above it. Hopefully, these people will read this column and adjust their behavior to reflect the truth about what Walmart pays.
In an economy where millions of people are still unemployed or underemployed, demonizing any employer is probably a bad idea. It gets much worse when the demonizing is based on lies and distortions. The data show that Walmart offers attractive pay and benefits to its employees. People who find those offers unsatisfactory should find another place to work rather than spending their energy complaining about jobs that hundreds of thousands of people find rewarding.read more
The Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety said Tuesday it has elected former California Rep. Ellen O’Kane Tauscher as its independent chair. It also signed three new members Costco Wholesale Corp., Intradeco Apparel and Jordache Enterprises Inc. making 20 North American apparel retailers and brands that have committed to the alliance’s own plan to improve fire and building safety in Bangladesh’s garment industry in the wake of two tragic factory disasters.
The alliance, which includes Wal-Mart Stores Inc., Gap Inc., Target Corp. and VF Corp., said the addition of the new members will bring the fund to improve factory safety conditions in Bangladesh and train workers and factory owners to $45 million.
The alliance is also holding its first official two-day board meeting with Tauscher in Chicago on Tuesday and Wednesday, where members will be briefed on the progress of implementing its safety initiative. The meeting will also focus on areas such as the development of a common fire and building safety standard and inspection protocol, and a fire and safety training curriculum for factory managers and employees. The alliance expects to announce the selection of its operating team, including an executive director for the program, next month.
Tauscher, who has been elected to a three-year term to the alliance’s board, brings strong credentials, having served seven terms in Congress and as undersecretary of state for arms control and international security affairs from 2009 to 2012. She helped negotiate the new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty between the U.S. and Russia while at the State Department.
In her most recent stint in the private sector at Baker Donelson Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz, in Washington, Tauscher worked as a strategic adviser to clients in national security, defense, transportation, export control and energy policy areas.
“I am [pleased] to be part of this unique public-private partnership between companies and stakeholders who want to materially change the safety and work conditions of tens of thousands of Bangladeshi garment workers,” said Tauscher. “This is an enormous challenge, but one well worth the time, effort and investment, as it will not only provide real change for the Bangladeshi workers, but this Alliance endeavor could serve as a global model for collaboration.”
Vinny Mazzurco, a self-proclaimed connoisseur of a winning baseball swing, is looking to Wal-Mart’s “Get on the Shelf” contest to bring his DVD of batting lessons to the world.
“It’s like a knife through butter when you connect for a solid line drive or a home run or a double,” Mazzurco, 32, of Wading River, said. “When it just hits that sweet spot of the bat, it’s an incredible feeling.”
Now Mazzurco and more than 30 Long Island individuals and companies are hoping to hit the sweet spot in Wal-Mart’s contest, in which the public votes for their favorite video pitches for products. The locals are among thousands of inventors and entrepreneurs entering the competition.
The 20 contestants who garner the highest votes, and the nod of Wal-Mart merchants, will have their stories and products featured on webisodes produced by Vimby, the digital studio associated with Mark Burnett, the producer of TV series such as “Shark Tank” and “Survivor.” A total of five winners will have the chance to sell their products on walmart.com, and possibly in Walmart stores.
“It’s an interesting way to engage with customers and give them a voice in helping them to pick products they want to purchase from Walmart,” said Ravi Jariwala, a Wal-Mart spokesman.
Mazzurco, an accountant at a large tech firm by day, is a former high school baseball player who runs an instructional, membership-only website and produces DVDs called “Baseball Swing Mastery,” now selling in local stores and on Amazon. He figures he could sell millions of DVDs if they got onto Walmart’s shelves.
Diane Carpentieri, 55, a Greenport real estate broker, decided to enter her portable cooling water bowl for pets in the contest. She said she already sells her K9 Cooler online and in several stores.
“It’s great advertising,” Carpentieri said, “and, should I win, I have a nice order.”
Marcus E. Walker, a Postal Service worker, hopes a deal with Wal-Mart will boost his sales of organic bath and body products, Elliott Organics. Like Carpentieri, he made sure to have his products made in the USA. While organic items tend to be more expensive, he says a high-volume order from Wal-Mart would lower retail prices.
“You get into Wal-Mart, and you are not just talking the United States alone, you are talking Canada,” Walker said. “Anybody who gets into Wal-Mart just blew up.”
The pro-Walmart stance is nothing new, especially considering the Bronx Democrat has released his patented “What You Should Know” jeremiads in the past on the upsides to having the big-box chain with its “Everyday low prices” in New York City.
Still, Diaz is one of the few Democrats in the state, let alone in New York City, to push for a Walmart, a company that is anathema to many liberals given its labor practices. Diaz, of course, isn’t like other Democrats in the state Senate, given his opposition to abortion rights and same-sex marriage.
EAST SYRACUSE, N.Y. – The yearlong project to convert the Wal-Mart at 6438 Basile Rowe into a Supercenter is finished.
The new merchandise, including a larger selection of groceries, has arrived. And starting today, the store is open 24 hours.
The location is near BJ’s and Romano Toyota in East Syracuse.
Work on the upgrade began in May 2012 and wrapped up June 9, said Stephen Stanton, store manager. The project involved overhauling all of the store’s departments and increasing the location’s size from 120,000 square feet to 157,000.
The extra space provides room for a new fresh produce section, bakery, deli and meat department. The store also now has an expanded dairy and frozen food area.
The store previously had a smaller selection of groceries, Stanton said.
The exterior of the location has been upgraded as well with a new look that includes more landscaping, Stanton added.
“It’s a brand new Wal-Mart prototype,” he said. “It doesn’t look so warehousey.”
Wal-Mart would not disclose the total cost of the upgrade.
The company is also building a new Supercenter in Clay at the site of a Sam’s Club that closed in 2010.
Here in a city where politicians fight new businesses that want to come to town, it’s no secret that Walmart remains unwelcome. But the retail giant has just landed a friend in a high place: the White House.
His name is Jason Furman, President Obama’s new pick to chair the Council of Economic Advisers. This should be of particular interest to New Yorkers: As a visiting professor at NYU in 2005, Furman authored a study heralding Walmart as “A Progressive Success Story.”
In his paper, Furman addressed the debilitating impact on the poor of this misguided, left-wing opposition:
“[To] the degree the anti-Walmart campaign slows or halts the spread of Walmart to new areas, it will lead to higher prices that disproportionately harm lower-income families.”
And he’s not the only pro-Walmart voice in the administration: Earlier this year, Obama named Sylvia Mathews Burwell, former head of the Walmart Foundation, as his budget director.
Obama wasn’t always this friendly. In 2008, his campaign attacked Hillary Clinton for sitting on the board of the Arkansas-based retailer.
Since then, however, his hometown of Chicago has opened its doors to Walmart. Meanwhile, wife Michelle gushes about the low prices and high quality of its fruits and vegetables. During a visit to a Missouri Walmart in February, the First Lady hailed the retailer for “showing us that what’s good for kids and good for family budgets can also be good for business.”
Anyone on our City Council listening?
OSWEGO, NY – The Salvation Army of Oswego County has received a grant of $5,681 from the Walmart Foundation as part of a national Walmart donation of one million dollars to Salvation Army centers across the country.
“Oswego is one of four Salvation Army centers in the Empire State Division, covering upstate New York that received funding through this donation. The other Salvation Army centers in Albany, Utica, and Olean received the same amount. Walmart has been an exceedingly generous supporter of The Salvation Army. For the last nine years, the Walmart Foundation has given a one million dollar grant to the Army which is in addition to allowing the Army to raise dollars on site during the holiday season through the Red Kettle campaign,” said Major Donald Hostetler, divisional commander of the Empire State Division of The Salvation Army.
On April 22, 2013 at 9:00 a.m., a ceremonial groundbreaking was held for Walmart’s new Neighborhood Market in Niskayuna, New York. The ceremony consisted of Walmart senior executives and local officials. The new Neighborhood Market will be the first in upstate New York and will be around 40,000 square feet, one-quarter of the Walmart Supercenter size. The store will consist of a grocery area, pharmacy, general merchandise, and beauty and health items. The store is expected to open in October and will have 90 full and part-time positions available to the community. The new Neighborhood Market is located at 3241 State, St, Niskayuna.
Remarks by Walmart President and CEO Mike Duke Introducing First Lady Michelle Obama at the Business Roundtable
Walmart President and CEO Mike Duke will introduce First Lady Michelle Obama at the Business Roundtable and deliver the following remarks, as prepared for delivery, today, March 13th at approximately 11:40 am EDT:
“We are pleased to be joined by our guest today, First Lady Michelle Obama. Mrs. Obama speaks movingly about the service, strength, and sacrifice of our current generation of troops, veterans, and military families. It is a personal privilege to share some of her work and to start our discussion around creating opportunity for this new group of heroes.