American Rights at Work releases report on Walmart

Today, American Rights at Work released a report detailing the limited career opportunities available for Walmart associates. Coauthored by Nelson Lichtenstein of the University of California at Santa Barbara and American Rights at Work’s own Erin Johansson, “Creating Hourly Careers: A New Vision for Walmart and the Country” calls on the retail giant to take the lead in establishing a career path for its hourly workforce.

As the report makes clear, Walmart’s employees want to keep working for the company – the problem is that Walmart makes it nearly impossible to do so. Associates face a cap on wages, ever-changing schedules, expensive benefits, and an arbitrary discipline process.

Your first thought may be to ask, “Why don’t the associates become managers?” Well, the reality is that opportunities to move up the ladder are very rare. Compared to the many associates throughout Walmart’s stores, only a relatively small number of managerial positions exist above them – think of a cherry on top of a pancake. So for most of Walmart’s employees, a career will be at the associate level, and many simply cannot afford to stay.

The good news is that hourly careers are possible. As the report makes clear, longshoremen in California and janitors in Houston, Texas, represent just some of the jobs turned into stable, family-supporting careers. And within Walmart’s own supply chain, workers at Smithfield Foods recently turned hourly jobs into sustaining careers by coming together to form a union.

Walmart’s position as the leader in the retail-dominated economy allows it to make these positive examples the norm across the service industry. Of course, in every instance, workers transformed their jobs into hourly careers when they had a voice on the job and a seat at the bargaining table. Walmart associates certainly could theoretically do the same – but Walmart has fiercely resisted any effort by its U.S. workforce to form unions. It’s time for a new business model, one in which associates can live and work better too.

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This entry was posted on Wednesday, January 19th, 2011 at 2:34 pm and is filed under General. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

2 Responses to “American Rights at Work releases report on Walmart”

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by greenparentchicago, Michael Wasser, NancyEH and others. NancyEH said: RT @KOSEUnion: New blog post! American Rights *at* Work releases new report on Walmart http://bit.ly/hy44DL #labor || Not Right *to* Work […]

  2. Kevin Boston says:

    Good luck getting that to happen. You’d have to resurrect Jimmy Hoffa to make that possible, because there has been little to no testicular fortitude in Union Leadership since.

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