MCAW RESPONDS TO MISLEADING NEW YORK TIMES ARTICLE

MCAW RESPONDS TO MISLEADING NEW YORK TIMES ARTICLE

Washington, DC — Making Change at Walmart (MCAW), the national campaign to change Walmart into a more responsible employer, released the following letter to the editor in response to Neil Irwin’s New York Times article (“How Did Walmart Get Cleaner Stores and Higher Sales? It Paid Its People More,” 10/15/16). Signed by Campaign Director Randy Parraz, the letter states in part:

It comes as no surprise that in Walmart’s home state of Arkansas, the workers that Walmart selected to speak to Mr. Irwin spoke highly of the company. If he had ventured to other parts of the country and actually spoken with Walmart workers who spend their days and nights away from their children, due to a schedule they can’t control, only to make $9 an hour, he would have come away with a different impression and a different article.

The full letter is below.

TO THE EDITOR:

RE: “How Did Walmart Get Cleaner Stores and Higher Sales? It Paid Its People More,” by Neil Irwin (Economic Trends article, Oct. 15) about Walmart’s “investments” in workers’ wages and training:

Mr. Irwin’s article regarding higher wages as well as more efficient education and training for Walmart workers paints a rosy picture, but the actual lived experiences of Walmart workers, plus some of the New York Times’ own previous reporting, show that these claims from Walmart executives amount to mostly propaganda.

On June 3, after attending Walmart’s annual shareholders’ meeting, the New York Times’ Rachel Abrams reported that the employees say the company “has found more subtle ways to keep the reins on its workers’ paychecks,” including cutting merit raises and implementing a training program that can keep employees at $9 an hour for as long as 18 months.

This is the reality that workers face: They arrive at Walmart with dreams of rising in the ranks and developing a career, but a bureaucratic and discouraging system of managers who are only concerned with their stores’ bottom lines, and not the development of workers, keeps these new employees stranded at $9 an hour. The Times further reported that half a million employees leave the company each year.

Mr. Irwin also ignored the fact that after wages went up, many workers reported their hours going down. In August of 2015, Bloomberg reported that store managers were told to rein in expenses by cutting worker hours. This resulted in practices that still continue, including telling workers to leave shifts early, telling them to take longer lunches, and cutting some workers down to as little as 25 hours a week.

As Making Change at Walmart talks to Walmart workers across the country, we continually hear that they’re struggling with understaffed and understocked stores, erratic scheduling and poverty wages. Walmart worker and single mother Nita Fischer earns $9 an hour and is reliant on the U.S. government to pay her $294 a month in food stamps. She says that “Walmart is treating some people like dirt.”

Walmart has fired pregnant workers, like Candis Riggins and Arleja Stephens, and retaliated against workers who stand up for their rights. Thousands of workers were left without jobs when Walmart closed 154 U.S. stores early this year. Thousands more will be losing their jobs at the end of this year, as Walmart eliminates three to four back-office financial positions in every store.

Mr. Irwin also reported that Walmart found customer service scores are improving, but that is certainly not the case nationwide. A survey by Forrester Research of 122,500 U.S. adult consumers, reported on by Chain Store Age on July 22, found that “Walmart was the lowest-scoring traditional retail brand.”

It comes as no surprise that in Walmart’s home state of Arkansas, the workers that Walmart selected to speak to Mr. Irwin spoke highly of the company. If he had ventured to other parts of the country and actually spoken with Walmart workers who spend their days and nights away from their children, due to a schedule they can’t control, only to make $9 an hour, he would have come away with a different impression and a different article.

Sincerely,

Randy Parraz, Director of Making Change at Walmart