June 13th, 2012

Retail giant Walmart has resisted working with labor unions, but that hasn’t stopped some of its employees from organizing to ask for a better deal. A loosely organized group that is supported by a national union is speaking out about Walmart’s wage and benefits practices, and saying that the store doesn’t give low wage workers enough hours to make ends meet.

Over the past few years Walmart has been raising the number of hours that employees must work to qualify for benefits. At the same time, employees say that they have been hiring more part time workers and giving everyone fewer hours. The current dispute centers denial of benefits claims and a low hourly wage, which has not been made public but is likely lower than the $12.40 per hour that full time employees make.

This type of dispute is a difficult situation for employees, who want to be paid and have access to the benefits they need, but who fear losing their jobs if they continue to stir the pot. Retaliation against employees who organize is illegal under state and federal labor laws, but it is still possible for the workers to experience some level of intimidation.

Employees that spoke to reporters last week said that the conditions make it difficult to make ends meet. One woman spoke about credit card debt that she is struggling to manage because of her low wage, and said that some of her coworkers live in their cars because they cannot afford rent.

Source: USA Today, “Some Walmart workers want better wages, affordable benefits,” Hadley Malcolm and Jayne O’Donnell,” June 7, 2012.

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