People in Indiana and across the United States may already be aware of the heated situation between Walmart and its employees. In what started as a strike involving warehouse workers for Walmart’s distribution centers has exploded into a company-wide strike that now includes cashiers and other store employees.
Workers in more than a dozen different cities across the nation joined the strike against the retail giant citing numerous safety violations, wage disputes and questionable scheduling practices. Tensions are so high that protestors are even threatening further walkouts on Black Friday which could severely cripple the store’s earnings for the year.
For store workers, the majority of complaints stem from low wages, unpredictable schedules, and missing wages. Their claims have been backed by experts as well in studies, such as a 2011 study that found Walmart employees earned nearly 12 percent less than the average retail worker and more than 14 percent less than workers in other retail establishments.
Low wages coupled with irregular scheduling has placed Walmart at the top of the list of companies with the most employees on public assistance. According to a 2008 study, 26 percent of workers in Chicago, Los Angeles and New York were paid less than minimum wage with 76 percent of workers either being underpaid or not paid at all for overtime hours.
The recent strike may come as a surprise to the general population but many workers say that it has been a long time coming. A majority of the workers say that the strike has taken so long to get organized because there is the constant fear of losing their jobs. Whenever someone would speak up about the unfair conditions, managers would threaten, suspend or even fire those workers who made complaints.
Legal experts point out that retaliation from employers, paying less than minimum wage, and not paying correctly for overtime are all illegal and against employment laws. Situations such as this warrant action and many people agree that the workers’ strike is the first step towards fixing a problem that has been around for far too long.
Source: Bradenton Herald, “Walmart’s everyday low wages,” Christine Owens, Oct. 17, 2012