Corporate Accountability and WorkPlace  
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Wal-Mart Manager Speaks out About His Store’s Ugly Reality

From no time off, to working multiple roles at once, here's what's really going on at the mega-chain.

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So I think customer service definitely does lack.

Your job as an assistant manager – what do you think is different about it from what people imagine?

When I came into the role, I thought it was going to be that I’m going to handle paperwork, be there for the associates, and help them with issues that may arise with them; I’m going to be the guy that they can come to for answers, I’m going to develop leaders …

There’s not enough time in the day to do it … They don’t have enough people to get the job done. And it shows. It shows on the shelves, in terms of the stock. You know, it shows with the morale of the associates. That definitely has issues …

If you look at companies like Wegman’s or Costco, you know, that staff their stores, and they have high payroll percentages, but they’re still [showing] profits, because they’re getting the product on the shelves …

If you have empty shelves, your baskets aren’t as good. What really matters is: How much does that customer buy going through the register? You know, if the customer comes in with a shopping list of 35 items, and you only have 20, you lost a good portion of that sale … to your competitor …

The company made $17 billion in profit last year. They paid the CEO $18 million … There’s no reason why they can’t pay overtime, they can’t give hours back to associates.

The group OUR Wal-Mart … What have you heard from Wal-Mart corporate or Wal-Mart management about it?

Corporate has been very quiet recently about … OUR Wal-Mart. What they have told everybody is “most of these aren’t Wal-Mart associates” and … “the union sees Wal-Mart is a big paycheck.”

And you know, I can understand Wal-Mart’s stance on unions, and why they don’t want it. However, I can say I see a lot of validation in these associates’ claims that are part of the organization.

And you know, I think that they’re trying to bring the issues up the best way they can … Sometimes managers don’t hear it, and it’s not because we don’t want to hear it. It’s because we have 65 things going on at one time …

The individual attention is just not there in the stores right now, because … they’re understaffing.

Have you been tasked personally with doing anything to talk to people about OUR Wal-Mart or discourage people from getting involved in OUR Wal-Mart?

No … I’m on the fence.

I’m not going to say that a union is the answer for Wal-Mart; I’m not going to say that it’s not. However …associates should speak up … Those concerns should be able to be handled by people that have the time to handle them …

It’s not fair to the associates to bring a concern to a member of management in their store who doesn’t necessarily have the time to take care of it … If I don’t get my compliance done, that could cost me my job …

The firing of more than 20 people who had gone on strike with OUR Wal-Mart – what’s your view of what motivated that?

My view on that would probably be: They don’t want it to spread. Wal-Mart’s going to say, you know: “Hey, it’s an attendance policy” [being enforced] … The real reason … is that you don’t want that apple spoiling the bunch, as they would say. The last thing you would want to see is associates … speaking out and … organizing and not facing retaliation, so other associates feel more comfortable with it.

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