Recently, Making Change at Walmart connected Walmart workers James Collins and Lorene Berry with Washington Post’s Abha Bhattarai to talk about their experiences with being long-term Associates and still making at– or barely above– the starting wage. Here’s what they had to say:


Minimum wages are rising. Pay for experienced retail workers is not.

August 2 at 6:20 PM

(Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg News)

James Collins has been working at Walmart for six years. His pay: $11 an hour, the same as what a new hire would make on their first day of work.

Collins, a 65-year-old maintenance worker at a Dallas store, joined the company when the starting hourly wage was $8. Over the years, Walmart has steadily raised that rate, in part to attract workers in a tightening labor market. But data shows that pay for longer-term workers like Collins has remained stubbornly stagnant.

“There’s no appreciation for experience anymore,” Collins said. “Someone could walk off the street today and get paid the same as me.”

Retailers have made headlines for raising their minimum hourly wages in quick succession — CVS to $11, Costco to $13, Target to $15 by 2020 — while 29 states and the District now require that employers pay more than the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour. But economists say those gains have not translated to higher wages among mid-level workers.