Wal-Mart’s change in wages impacts employees


Some employees not concerned about wage gap

Wal-Mart,the nation’s largest private employer, is pushing for changes in the schedules and wages of their 1.3 million employees nationwide.

These changes have been implemented in order to create a cheaper, more effective work force, and to better serve their customers, a spokesperson for the company said.

Some of these changes include capping wages, using more part-time workers and scheduling more workers on nights and weekends.

Reza Hamzaee“Wal-Mart is a company that has promoted themselves as being pro-people, but this new policy is anti-people,” Dr. Reza Hamzaee, a professor of economics at Missouri Western State University, said.

Putting policies into affect that are not worker-friendly also opens the company up to the dangers of theft and attracting a lower quality of employee, as well as damaging the loyalty of current Wal-Mart employees Hamzaee says.

“The loyalty of employees to their employer will suffer,” Hamzaee said, “They aren’t going to offer their best to customers. It is a proven theory in labor economics, when loyalty to the employer suffers, productivity will suffer.”

These new policies not only stand to damage Wal-Mart’s standing with employees, but also hurt their reputation with customers of being a people-friendly, family-oriented company.

“This new policy shows customers they’re not taking care of their own, which is a bad message for customers,” Hamzaee said.

Wal-Mart representatives have pointed out that several of their competitors, including Target and Sears have implemented similar changes. However, Wal-Mart surpasses both companies in both profit and size. Last year, Wal-Mart made $312 billion in sales, exceeding the sales of the next five biggest retailers combined, therefore affecting far more people.

Joshua Kalin, a Missouri Western student and Wal-Mart cashier of four months, is among the 42,089 Missourians employed by Wal-Mart. Unlike many full-time employees, Kalin doesn’t feel students who work at Wal-Mart will be affected by the changes.

“I think the wage cap made the people who have been at Wal-Mart for 20 years mad, but the people who aren’t going to be there all their lives can make more, faster,” Kalin said.

The opportunity to make more money faster is important to Kalin, as it is to many other college students who struggle to balance work at school.

“The only raises I get are from evaluations, which happen at least every year, and when you first start, you get one 90 days into your job,” Kalin said, “I got a hefty raise from the 90 day evaluation. I think it was close to five percent.”

“Wal-Mart’s not such a bad place,” Kalin said, “It’s done a lot for customers of lower income, who can’t afford expensive stuff.”

However, balancing the new and more demanding work schedule brought on by the new policy, with courses can create problems for students.

“Student employees suffer from the policy. If students have to work many hours at any time, you have napping students. Their school work suffers, which is not good for their main
investment: education,” Hamzaee said.

From an economic perspective, these changes may be effective in the short term, however Hamzaee believes the company will suffer in the long run.

“There is an Iranian proverb that says if you don’t put the first brick straightly the whole building will be tilted,” Hamzaee said. “This means you must establish a good foundation first. You may keep building high, but the building will eventually fall down. Wal-Mart might benefit from these changes now, but eventually they will suffer.”

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