October 25, 2005

North Dakota Illegals (None Found)

On its own initiative, Wal-Mart is cracking down on building contractors using illegal immigrants:

Wal-Mart officials say they're making sure all their workers are legal.

The mega-retailer says it halted construction of all seven stores the under construction in North Dakota yesterday to make sure no illegal aliens were working at the sites.

Company spokesman says [sic] Marty Heires says the shut-downs were done by Wal-Mart. He says authorities did NOT ask for the checks....

Heires says yesterday's shut-downs may have been the first time Wal-Mart had stopped construction statewide anywhere in the United States for internal compliance checks.

UPDATE: No illegals were found. Again, this doesn't mean there are no illegals anywhere constructing Wal-Mart stores; one data point (or 8 points) does not represent the entire population.

Posted by Kevin at 12:17 PM

October 13, 2005

A Summer at WM

In Chicago Business Online, Alison Nickum writes of her summer working at Wal-Mart HQ in Bentonville.

My first week on the job consisted of going through orientation with the 50-some other new Wal-Mart home office employees for that day. (They set up that many people there *every day*. And that's just for the home office!) Orientation lasted most of the week. At the tail-end of the week, I got to meet my team, learn about my project, and get going!
It's worth reading just for her description of Retail Boot Camp:
I only had a couple of days to get started on my project, because all the MBA interns were scheduled to spend the beginning part of the following week working in stores! Wal-Mart called it "Retail Boot Camp," and we had one day of working in a Sam's Club, and one day of working in a Wal-Mart Supercenter (the ones with grocery). I was totally excited!
She's an MBA, so I think she really means it.

By the way, Wal-Mart; I'd love to spend a couple of months being educated about your logistics and planning systems. The US Department of Defense (who funds my employer) could learn quite a lot from the experience.

Posted by Kevin at 4:48 PM

September 26, 2005

Community Involvement Coordinator Axed?

A previous WM store manager had a promoted Rveva Barrett to full-time community involvement coordinator. The current one cut her pay and her position, so she became an anti-WM advocate:

Manuel Guzman, manager of Pinellas Park's Wal-Mart Supercenter, asked Barrett to sit down. "I'm sorry," he told her, "but your job's being eliminated."

That was in July. It was the second blow for Barrett, the store's coordinator of community involvement, or "good works," and a 15-year Wal-Mart veteran. In April, Guzman had cut her community involvement hours to 20 per week. The other 20 were to be spent in the fabrics and crafts department.

But this was much worse.

Not only was Barrett's job eliminated, her pay was cut $1.30 an hour, from $19.46 to $18.16. Her hours were shortened. Guzman told her she had to be available to work any time from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. "or leave," Barrett said.

"I was mad," Barrett said. "I was shocked. I couldn't believe it."

For three years, Barrett had been the public face of the company and its main local cheerleader, badgering reporters for positive stories about Wal-Mart's good deeds and schmoozing state and local leaders.

Barrett was, as she put it, a "believer."

No more.

The pay cut was a really dumb idea, IMHO, although I understand the restructuring of the job, especially if the store manager wanted to handle those duties himself.

The article contains this delightful sentence:

Barrett's are not the first such allegations against Wal-Mart.
Is it really possible for regular newspaper readers to think otherwise?

There's not much information on Ms. Barrett, except that her position put her on the local Chamber of Commerce. Elsewhere, Ms. Barrett is an "assistant store manager" (Jan 04), which is BEFORE her duties were split, so there are details missing...

Posted by Kevin at 9:16 AM

September 20, 2005

Be nice...

Fairywings works at Wal-Mart, and makes this public request:

So the next time you go into Wal-Mart, be nice to the people who help you, because the nice people are the ones we do our best for, and the ones we'll remember when we go home!! Thanks for shopping with us America!!

Posted by Kevin at 5:25 PM

September 16, 2005

WM in Waco

More news of relocating associates:

Already, three displaced Gulf Coast Wal-Mart employees are back to work in Waco area stores.

In fact, when a displaced employee applied at a Waco Wal-Mart, he was given a job and a check for $1,000, no questions asked...

Officials at Wal-Mart say they're just doing there part to help a member of the Wal-Mart family.

Posted by Kevin at 10:27 AM

September 7, 2005

Too Costly or not Costly Enough?

After reading about Wal-Mart's rapid response to Katrina, Radley Balko asks:

H. Lee Scott for director of FEMA?
To take this seriously, I doubt that FEMA is legally permitted to entice Mr. Scott away from Wal-Mart with anything near his current ~$12.6M compensation package (including stock options). With $42M in Wal-Mart stock, he certainly wouldn't be doing it for the money.

Instead, FEMA is managed by MIchael Brown, who, as a level III executve will earn $149,000 in 2005.

Wal-Mart's CEO earns about 85 times the amount of FEMA's Under Secretary. Is FEMA getting the management that it is paying for?

Posted by Kevin at 9:37 AM

August 12, 2005

Wal-Mart Hiring Center

A cute look into a Wal-Mart war room hiring center in Boyertown, PA:

Since July 26, the hiring center has been in full swing, full momentum, trying to flesh out its roster for the Oct. 26 grand opening. To properly outfit the store's shelves, aisles, and departments with the appropriate merchandise - from tires to frozen turkeys - Wal-Mart will need to hire its 300 to 400 staff by the September date.

"It's a pretty frantic operation," describes John Mchugh, store manager for Bethlehem's Super Wal-Mart who will helm Boyertown's in the fall. "We need
to get everyone trained and ready to go." Training will be supervised by a management team of nearly a dozen.

The people applying for jobs include a recent high school grad, a poor college student, and two men in automotive school.

Hmmmm... Why are thsee people applying to Wal-Mart when the jobs are allegedly so poor paying? No alternatives, you say, so Wal-Mart is their best alternative? Well, no, look at the list some of the local alternatives:

1) Cabot Supermetals is paying $16-$21 per hour for those with experience in a chemical manufacturing environment.

2) Early Intervention teachers with high school graduation and 3 years of childcare expeirence required. $8.50 an hour.

3) SEWING MACH. OPER & ASSEMBLERS - l Boyertown Co. l 1st shift 7 am - 3:30 pm l $8 - $9/ hr. l Exp Req.

4) Truck Mechanic Exp. necessary $21-$25hr depending on exp. Co. paid bnfts, KOP area shop. Day shift. CDL & insp. lic. a plus.

5) Construction Laborers $9.47/hr. FT w/benefits. Concrete/Carpentry/ Mechanical exp. helpful. E.O.E. Drug test required.

6) Home Health/ Home Care Aide... Wide variety of duties including personal care assistance, housekeeping, activities, opportunities on all shifts. No certification required. Start wage $8.50 _ attendance bonus + insurance +vacation + 401k + sick leave.

7) DOCKWORKERS PJAX, INC part time dockworkers to load/unload trucks. 2nd shift available. New starting p/t rate $11.50/hr; f/t $12.50/hr. Forklift experience preferred.

8) Line Cooks Full service, casual resturant seeking FT kit. help. $10-$12 per hr. PT/FT avail. All shifts.

9) Production Workers Needed for sheet metal shop, 1st shift turret press operator. Heavy lifting reqd. Good math apptitude & the ability to read tape measurer Up to $14.45 per hr

10) LIFEGUARDS for apt complex pool $10/hr

11) Assistant Bookkeeper 12-month position. Position requirements: post high school business education and/or three to five (3-5) years related business experience; Knowledge of payroll procedures as related to salaries; fringe benefits; federal and state withholdings; accounts payable; and financial record keeping; strong computer experience with emphasis in Excel applications. Position responsibilities include strong communication skills in working with district-wide personnel, high degree of professionalism and confidentiality. Position is hourly, support staff, full benefits coverage, $19.55 per hour.

Search outside of Boyertown, and the list goes on and on, and those are the jobs that actually put the offered wages in the classified ad...

Given this information, how much should Wal-Mart pay a high school graduate with no experience? And a part-time college student?

Posted by Kevin at 3:51 PM

July 6, 2005

WM: Law Firms Must Be Diverse at the Top

Via Ted Frank, Wal-Mart will require the law firms it uses to demonstrate that minorities and women are in high ranking positions:

Wal-Mart's move, sent in a letter to outside counsel last month, upped the ante.

Once the retailing giant gets lists of attorneys from its outside firms, due in mid-July, it will start weeding accordingly, Mars said. "We'll be making more decisions to retain and terminate firms [at that point]," he said.

"We are terminating a firm right now strictly because of their inability to grasp our diversity expectations," he added.


Wal-Mart's new policy signals a growing determination by corporate legal departments to pressure outside counsel. It is no longer enough, the general counsel at the symposium said, to raise the numbers of women and minority lawyers in a firm's lower ranks if its upper echelons remain an exclusive club for white men.

The entire article is a must read.

Posted by Kevin at 8:33 AM

June 9, 2005

Peter Kanelos Leaves WM Tomorrow (Updated)

I think this is a big loss for Wal-Mart:

The Wal-Mart community affairs director for Arizona and Southern California, whose office approved an advertisement that appeared to equate a local zoning proposal with Nazi book-burning, has resigned, the giant retailer said.

Peter Kanelos, who oversees the chain's public relations effort in both states, will leave the company Friday...

Kanelos seems to have been pretty effective in many other campaigns...

UPDATE: WUWM insists that:

tens of thousands of Wake-Up Wal-Mart supporters demonstrated the power ordinary Americans have to change Wal-Mart and make Wal-Mart a more responsible company.
As Fark would put it, .

Posted by Kevin at 12:58 PM

April 28, 2005

Whistleblower Demands Respect

As previously reported on ALP, former WM VP Jared Bowen wants to make sure that WM did not violate federal law when it fired him:

Bowen spent 13 years at Wal-Mart, rising from store cashier to v.p. of operations before the company fired him March 30, 2005, according to a statement released yesterday by Bowen's attorney, Steve Kardell of Clouse Dunn Hirsch in Dallas. The termination came after Bowen reported some questionable expenses incurred by his immediate superior, former Wal-Mart vice chairman Thomas Coughlin, the statement added.

Bowen believes he was the first person at Wal-Mart ever to openly question the Coughlin expenses, even though he said they went on for several years.

If Mr. Bowen knew about the transactions for years, and only came forward after some time, I'm not sure he's in a protected status. Here's more...

Posted by Kevin at 7:23 AM

April 24, 2005

94 days at Wal-Mart

Here's a blog that ended last December. The Wal-Mart Blog was supposed to recount one man's experiences working there, but all of a sudden, he seems to have vanished... but we have his recollections of his first 94 days.

Day one described the application process and aptitude test:

They don't have you fill anything out (lucky for me), instead, I sat down at a touch-screen kiosk and typed all the important stuff. References, previous employers, work experience....But then they had this sort of aptitude test, where I answered certain questions about my views on management/employee relationships, past work problems, and a bunch of ethical questions about workplace theft and drug use. Not if I had been involved in these sorts of things, but hypothetical questions about how I (or sometimes management) would/should react if employees were stealing, or if someone came to work "just a little bit high" (their wording). It was weird. I'm guessing maybe they've had problems with this in the past, and they try to root out potential "bad seeds" before the interview process?

Posted by Kevin at 7:46 AM

April 22, 2005

The Plot Thickens

Although the article is not yet available online, today's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette is reporting that Jared Bowen, one of those fired in connection with the Tom Coughlin matter, will petition Wal-Mart's board of directors to reconsider his termination. Bowen and his attorney appear to be claiming whistleblower status.

Other tidbits in the article:

Bowen claims to have given Coughlin $5,100 in gift cards which Coughlin claimed would be given to "all-star" managers at the shareholder's meeting. However, Coughlin did not want the awarding of these cards to be put on the meeting agenda and said he'd mail them out himself.

Bowen is cooperating with the FBI investigation of the matter and quotes an unnamed agent as saying, "the investigation is growing tentacles every day".

Links will be provided when available. Here's the link.

Disclosure: I knew Jared from working on a few projects with him. I hadn't heard that he'd been promoted to VP, but I am not surprised. He could definitely get things done.

Posted by Angus at 6:13 AM

April 20, 2005

What Percent of Hourly Associates Work Full-Time? (UPDATED)

Wal-Mart used to list as a fact the figure that, at one recent point, 74% of WM hourly associates worked full time. All of a sudden, this number has disappeared from several places on the "Do You Know" section of walmartfacts.com. However, "currently 74 percent of Wal-Mart�s hourly store associates in the United States work full-time" still appears on the careers section. (UPDATE: The page has been modified, and now reads " the majority of Wal-Mart�s hourly store associates in the United States work full-time"; below is a screenshot I took this morning when I initially posted, just in case WM changed its information).

WM Careers with 74 percent.gif

Click to Enlarge

I have relied on the 74% figure in the past, but I will not anymore. And I do not like the implications of this silent change. Now, a figure like this is bound to change over time, especially as temporary hiring occurs during the shopping season, but instead of 74%, or a range over the past few years, Wal-Mart now writes that "The majority of Wal-Mart's hourly store associates in the U.S. work full-time". That could be a considerable difference, or it could just be bad phrasing, and I'm surprised the anti-WM folks aren't up in arms -- yet.

Posted by Kevin at 6:46 AM

April 13, 2005

Chris Bennett on Wal-Mart Employees

I have found this opinion common among people, but rarely is it voiced online:

If Wal-Mart employees think they should receive health care benefits, here's a crazy thought, go on strike. One of two things will happen. Either Wal-Mart will realize it much provide its employees with health care benefits to keep them happy or they will find new employees who don't give a crap whether or not they have health care, they just want a paycheck. There's a reason Wal-Mart is able to keep over 10,000 employees without providing any of them with health care benefits, the employees don't care. It's not Wal-Mart's fault that you're so poorly equipped yourself for the outside world that working at Wal-Mart is the best gig you could get. You want health care, make yourself a more marketable employee and quit working at Wal-Mart.
Apparently, Chris doesn't realize the large number of Wal-Mart employees (probably ~40% of 10,000) who use the company's health insurance, which is essentially a catastrophic care program with other non-catastrophic benefits.

Posted by Kevin at 11:23 AM

"An Even Better Place to Work"

You have to hate the way H.R. people are required to talk in public:

APRIL 13, 2005 -- NEW YORK -- One of Wal-Mart's key objectives in 2005 is to create an "even better place to work," said the retailer's s.v.p. of human resources, Susan Oliver, yesterday in a keynote speech at the New York HR Week 2005 event here.

Oliver spoke of Wal-Mart's four "key deliverables" in the HR arena: strategy execution, administrative efficiency, increasing associate engagement and commitment, and change management.

The article contains some real blunders too, such as Wal-Mart opening 500 new stores but creating only a 1000 new jobs, and 1.3 million people being 1% of the U.S. population.

Posted by Kevin at 7:20 AM

April 12, 2005

The Case of Tony Gerling

Right now, we don't have full details or access to primary documents, so it's hard to tell whether Wal-Mart fired Tony Gerling for rejoining the Army:

Tony Gerling, 27, of Stronghurst, Ill., says he was terminated on April Fool's Day, just two days after telling his bosses he was returning to active service in the military in June....

Federal law prohibits employers from dismissing a worker because of military service. Gerling has filed a complaint with the United States Department of Labor seeking lost wages.

Wal�Mart spokeswoman Christi Gallagher said Friday that Gerling's firing was unrelated to his Army commitment. Company policy forbids her from giving further details, she said....

Expect company policy to be clarified shortly.

Posted by Kevin at 1:43 PM

April 5, 2005

Bloggers Who Work for Wal-Mart

It's come to my attention that hundreds of unknown bloggers and web journal users work at Wal-Mart. Most have little to do with WM, and many are rather vulgar, so don't read on if you're easily offended.

Almost every post by Ryan at News of Aberdeen speaks wisdom about the Wal-Mart debate.

Nikki lives in Ontario, Canada. So does Sarah Specht - "wal-mart isn't coming through for me. i have 2 there next week *sighs* wed and fri night. i wonder what the week after has in store for me....."

A spark in the dark - "I'm Nick, 20 years old, St louis Missouri area. I work at wal-mart because I suck and dropped out of college, trying to make ends meet on my own on a meager salary."

Quixtar Criminals is a construction manager for Wal-Mart.

Anonymous works at WM, and has a good friend working for Target.

i3ai3ygurl1101 is a WM cashier in Florida; she's looking to be a customer service manager soon.

Let Sara describe herself - "I'm 19 and I go to school currently at UW-Eau Claire. I am an Environmental/public Health major with the intent to do hazardous waste management or something to that extent....we will see how long that lasts cuz yea, I majorly suck at science right now....I work at Wal*Mart back home in The Grove. Don't hate on the mart or else i will have to come and beat you up!"

The Gum Guy works for Symbol in Wal-Mart Headquarters

John Hicks is a cashier at Wal-Mart.

Big Crazy has been at Wal-Mart for six years, and has good advice for new assistant managers - "So, the guy says,�I need to have your school schedule on file,� and I say fine. Then he wants to know what I�m doing on my days off. It�s none of your fucking business what I�m doing on MY day off!! It�s MY DAY OFF!!! If I want to hang-glide naked over the Illinois River, then I should be able to do it as long as I don�t have a Wal-Mart vest on when I�m on my day off�.plain and simple. That�s why there are Availablity Sheets, and on them you put what days, times, hours, etc., that you are AVAILABLE! All other time is yours and none of Wal-Mart�s goddamn business."

Chris Dempsey works a lot at Wal-Mart.

Melissa Meloche writes frequently about work at WM as an Inventory Control Specialist

Erica Lynn works in a Wal-Mart portrait studio..

Gimme a break writes candidly about working 30 hours a week for Wal-Mart. Read this entry on the attitude that one customer gave...

Heather is paid $8.15 an hour at Wal-Mart. Kohls offered $6.50.

Posted by Kevin at 10:15 AM

March 31, 2005

More on Tom Coughlin (and an Introduction)

Coughlin's attorney commenting in this morning's Arkansas Democrat Gazette:

An attorney representing former Wal-Mart Vice Chairman Thomas Coughlin denied allegations that his client misspent as much as $500,000 in company money. "He�s not guilty of any wrongdoing," William Taylor, a Washington D. C.-based attorney who specializes in white-collar crime and litigation, said late Tuesday.

According to what I've heard from former co-workers at the home office, this is probably correct as a legal matter, but apparently there was some knowledge of what was happening that wasn't addressed.

The other "unnamed officer" that was either asked to resign or fired (depending on who you talk to) was Rob Hey. Hey was a long time director in the operations department on the Wal-Mart Stores side and was later promoted to VP. He was also a Coughlin prot�g�.

Yeah, my name has been sitting on the sidebar over there for a long time and yes, this is my first post. Thanks to Kevin for the opportunity and the patience.

I was a manager at the home office for five years prior to heading for the greener (REALLY greener) pastures of Vendorland. Obviously, my name isn't Angus, but I still do a lot of work with WM, and I would like to continue. I'm happy though, to be able to use this forum to share the reactions I see here in Bentonville to the various stories about the company.

Posted by Angus at 9:49 AM

March 25, 2005

Thomas Coughlin Fired (UPDATED)

This adds a new dimension to our previous report on the executives being fired:

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. said on Friday it had asked former Vice Chairman Thomas Coughlin to resign as a director in connection with an internal investigation into unauthorized use of corporate-owned gift cards and personal reimbursements.

Coughlin, who sat on three board committees, including the one for strategic planning and finance, resigned from the board on Friday in a disagreement with the company over the matter, Wal-Mart said in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission (news - web sites).

Wal-Mart said it had reported the matter to the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Arkansas based on the findings of the investigation, including Coughlin's response to questions about his knowledge of certain transactions.

UPDATE: Matt at Overtaken by Events has a better summary:
I'm not sure that the significance of this can be overstated. Tom Coughlin, probably more than any other leader in the company, WAS Wal-Mart. He was a personality, and the regular employees loved him. I met him several times and heard him speak at various meetings and the guy was absolutely dynamic.

UPDATE 2: Mr. Coughlin had previously agreed to join the board of Alien Technology (pr):

Coughlin, former vice chairman, Wal-Mart Stores, is widely recognized as a pioneer in leading the adoption of advanced information technologies, including RFID, to transform business processes and operational efficiency in retail. After 28 years with Wal-Mart, he retired from his executive management role with the company in January 2005.

"We are extremely pleased that Tom has joined our board," said Tom Baruch, chairman of the board, Alien Technology, and managing partner and founder of CMEA Ventures. "His vast industry experience and vision for the adoption of RFID in the retail industry will be valuable for Alien as the company continues to pioneer development and implementation of RFID."

Perhaps the others on the board are rethinking this... The press release (same document as above, different link) provides an accurate summary of Mr. Coughlin's WM duties and elsewhere:
As Vice Chairman of the Board of Directors of Wal-Mart Stores, Inc, Coughlin was responsible for the U.S. operations of Wal-Mart Discount Stores, Supercenters, Neighborhood Markets, and SAM�S CLUBS, as well as Walmart.com. Prior to this position, he served as Executive Vice President and President and Chief Executive Officer of the Wal-Mart Stores Division and SAM�S CLUB (USA). Since joining Wal-Mart Stores in 1978, he served as Vice President of Loss Prevention, Vice President of Human Resources, Executive Vice President SAM�S Club Operations, Executive Vice President of Specialty Groups, and Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of Wal-Mart Store Operations. In the fall of 2001, he was elected to the Wal-Mart Board of Directors.

Mr. Coughlin is affiliated with numerous boards and organizations including Wal-Mart Stores, California State Hayward Educational Foundation, ChoicePoint, Inc., Cleveland Clinic Foundation Board of Trustees, MD Anderson Advance Team, National Association of Chain Drug Stores, Northwest Arkansas Community College Foundation, St. Edwards High School, and Students in Free Enterprise. He was recently honored by the Bentonville Library Foundation with the announcement that he and his wife Cynthia will be the namesakes for the new �Coughlin Library� in Bentonville, Arkansas, a new facility under development as a result of a $4 million gift from the Walton Foundation. Coughlin received his Bachelor of Science degree in Political Science from California State University.

UPDATE 3: Wal-Mart's press release has been fully reported by Reuters.

UPDATE 4: The Left Coaster's December article on Coughlin is absolutely punishing:

Coughlin, 55, was treated a year ago for arterial blockage, but company officials did not attribute his departure to his health. They say he returned to work fully recovered and kept a hectic travel schedule.

"He had an incredible sense of urgency. He taught people that the center of the company is in stores, not at headquarters, because there are no cash registers ringing at headquarters," says Jay Allen, head of executive affairs at Wal-Mart.

And that in a nutshell defines Thomas Coughlin and the minions he's created. Some of these men will decide that there are greener pasture elsewhere (for them!), and others will continue to rise in Wal-Mart's ranks. But none of these men will leave behind what Coughlin taught them about running a retail business. As these men make their career moves, the Wal-Mart philosophy about so many things will travel with them, and as their successes happen, other executives will want to model themselves after these men in the hops of matching their achievements.

UPDATE 5: The Arkansas Democrat Gazette has more:

Coughlin announced his retirement just days before Wal-Mart fired seven executives in December. The company said the executives were terminated for breaking company rules, though it never elaborated beyond that.

Coughlin supervised two of the most senior executives who were fired: former executive vice president Jim Haworth and former senior vice president Terry Pharr.

Haworth and Pharr both discussed their relationship with Coughlin when they gave depositions to attorneys suing Wal-Mart over alleged sexual discrimination at the company. Haworth was deposed in 2003 and Pharr in 2002.

Both men said Coughlin interviewed them before they were promoted to their respective positions. Haworth said that Coughlin gave him his annual performance review.

In his letter to employees Friday, Scott said he could not tell them if December�s firings were related to Wal-Mart�s investigation of Coughlin because of the federal criminal investigation.

Wal-Mart said in its filing that the expenditures under investigation involved "corporate-owned gift cards" along with "third party invoices and Company expense reports."

Posted by Kevin at 8:43 PM

March 17, 2005

Ex WM Worker on Hunger Strike

Day 7, and still going strong (rr):

Heading into Day 7 of a hunger strike -- he started two days after being fired from his job as a $15.95 per hour verifier at the Wal-Mart Distribution Center in Loveland -- Ryszard Tomtas isn't ready to give up.

"I kind of want him to just come back and not stay out there anymore," said Marcin, who has gone out to sit with his father a couple of times. "I hope he just gets his point proven ... and just comes back here. It's kind of weird thinking of him being out there for a month or so."

Tomtas, 46, of Loveland is protesting his firing by camping just outside the parking lot of the distribution center, the same workplace he said a supervisor and a fellow employee had sexually harassed him 30 times since 2000. Wal-Mart spokeswoman Christi Davis Gallagher of the corporate office in Bentonville, Ark., said Tomtas was terminated because he violated policy on workplace violence.

Tomtas, a Polish immigrant who worked at the distribution center for 13 years, said Wal-Mart accused him of kicking somebody.

"I never kicked anybody," said Tomtas, who was fired on March 8.

Tomtas said he's not hungry, he's feeling great and that he's in good spirits.

A sensible commenter notes that since we don't know the facts here, it's really hard to judge anything about this case.

Posted by Kevin at 12:25 PM

March 10, 2005

The Impact of Jonquiere

WM employees are claiming that both WM and the UFCW are applying undue pressure since the Jonquiere closing was announced:

Workers at various Wal-Marts around Quebec say they are being pressured by both management and labor. They describe a workplace atmosphere poisoned by rumor-mongering, insults and damage to personal property.

Anti-union workers at the Ste-Foy store, which other workers are trying to organize, reported unwanted visits to their homes in the middle of the night by organizers during the unionization drive. Two pro-union cashiers at the St-Hyacinthe store near Montreal reported that they recently had shortages in their registers, which they maintained were the work of management trickery to get them into trouble.

"This store is basically hell right now," said Noella Langlois, 53, a clothing saleswoman in the Jonqui�re store who opposes unionization. "You have two deeply divided clans."

UPDATE: The version of Clifford Kraus' article linked above was in the International Herald Tribune. The IHT leaves out some very interesting details from the same article in the New York Times:
Intimidation appears to go both ways, according to workers at three Wal-Mart stores in Quebec.

Sylvie Lavoie, a 40-year-old single mother and part-time cashier in the Jonqui�re store who says she needs a union, accused store managers of taking workers aside before the secret vote and warning them that a union would mean the store would close.

Afterward the workers came to union organizers crying and pleading for promises that they would not lose their jobs.

"They intimidate and do what they want," Ms. Lavoie said.

But Steve Lemieux, a 20-year-old cart pusher in the Ste. Foy store, says it is the union that is the abuser. "People who are for the unions have trouble accepting other opinions and they keep knocking on our doors to get us to sign their cards," he said.

"We don't need a union since there is easy advancement if you work for it."

The IHT has:

But in contrast to their counterparts in the United States, unions in Canada have had traces of success in organizing at Wal-Mart.

While the NYT has:

But in contrast to their counterparts in the United States, unions in Canada have had traces of success in organizing. For the giant American chain, Jonqui�re has become another barricade in its battle to keep unions out of its business.


Unionizing efforts at Wal-Marts in North America have virtually never made progress.


Unionizing efforts at Wal-Marts in North America have virtually never stuck.

In the IHT, but not the NYT:

In Windsor, union leaders said Wal-Mart posted news of the Jonqui�re closing in the lunchroom; Wal-Mart says if such a posting was made, it was by an employee and not the corporation.

Posted by Kevin at 11:13 AM

March 6, 2005

Teen WM Associate on "General Hospital"

Just a nice story:

For the walk-on role, Kassie Crose of Green Bay received a paycheck in the mail for $286.53.... as Crose points out, "Pretty good money for only three hours of work."

Only three hours of work, but a lifetime of dreams and a literal wish-come-true for the 19-year-old, whose all-expenses-paid trip to Los Angeles brought the fulfillment of a wish granted by Kids Wish Network, a nonprofit organization dedicated to creating happy memories by granting wishes to deserving kids.

The Florida-based organization... based their decision on the teen's long battle with complex cyanotic congenital heart disease. The blood Crose's heart pumps contains extremely low levels of oxygen, which can make it difficult for her to even make her way across a room without becoming short of breath....

Crose might be undecided about pursuing acting as a career, but one thing is certain: She will be somewhat of a celebrity Monday afternoon when she reports to work at Wal-Mart. "Everybody at Wal-Mart is really excited," she said. "They're going to watch it in the break room."

Posted by Kevin at 11:01 AM

January 24, 2005

Ithaca Store Manager Profiled

The Ithaca Journal goes on at length about local boy done good. It's a good read:

Ithaca is familiar territory to Dave Jacobson, personally and professionally.

Jacobson, 38, was born in a house that once stood not very far from the new Wal-Mart store he now manages, and he lived on Esty Street for many years....

He graduated from Ithaca High School in 1984, later spending four years in the U.S. Marine Corps.

Given the class action discrimination case against women is based on six women who claimed they were never given the same upward opportunities as Jacobson, perhaps we should see what it takes to move up in Wal-Mart:
The trip took almost a decade, but it saw Jacobson climb the corporate ladder fairly quickly.

"I asked the man who hired me what I had to do to get ahead in this company," Jacobson recalled. That was when he was a part-time stocker in the hardware department in Vestal.

The advice worked. He put his nose to the grindstone, and within 18 weeks was in a management position.

"And I asked the next supervisor, 'What do I need to do now?'" Jacobson added.

Soon, he was promoted into the firm's assistant manager program, graduating to a post as assistant store manager in Sayre, Pa. He returned to Vestal after being promoted to co-manager, and was then promoted to store manager in Hudson, south of Albany....

What are his responsibilities?
The company, Jacobson said, gives him the freedom to do what he thinks is right as a manager. He passes that philosophy down to those with whom he works.

"I make 95 percent of the decisions that go on in the store," he said. "And if someone comes to me and asks, 'What should I do here,' I often say, 'What do you think you should do?'"

Posted by Kevin at 10:51 AM

January 21, 2005

Is Wal-Mart Evil?

Random Fuzzy Comments thinks so:

Yes, to reiterate, Wal-mart is evil. As in, evil incarnate. With firey pits of hell and stuff. You see, I worked there too, so I know. However, I was lucky enough to leave instead of them finding a stupid reason to get rid of me. They're firing all the good people and keeping all the sucky ones... I swear, after Sam Walton died, the company's going deeper into Hades. His sons are so screwing it up, I bet their dad's spinning in his grave on a daily basis.

Posted by Kevin at 8:29 PM