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New Report Exposes Career Barriers for Walmart Associates
Calls on the industry leader to create hourly careers for its employees

January 14, 2011

Zoe Bridges-Curry
(202) 822-2127 x122
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Washington, D.C. – As Walmart readies to open stores in New York City, Washington, DC, and other urban markets, the retail giant has come under heightened scrutiny for its role in dragging down labor standards and keeping middle class life out of reach for so many working families. Today, American Rights at Work releases a hard-hitting report exposing the barriers to career development at the country’s most powerful retailer, and making the case for a new way of doing business.

The report, “Creating Hourly Careers: A New Vision for Walmart and the Country,” is available here .

The report shows that, rather than finding opportunities for professional growth, Walmart associates are faced with a cap on wages, ever-changing schedules, expensive benefits, and an arbitrary discipline system. And given the limited number of managerial positions, most employees must develop a career as an associate if they want to stay with the company. Unfortunately, thanks to Walmart’s current policies, that’s an option that most of the company’s employees simply can’t afford.

But Walmart can reverse its race-to-the-bottom labor model for its associates—and for workers across the modern service-based economy. “We know that hourly careers are possible, just look at the longshoremen in California and janitors in Houston. There are even examples from Walmart’s own supply chain, like Smithfield Foods in North Carolina,” says Nelson Lichtenstein, co-author of the report. “As the leader in the economy's dominant sector, Walmart can have a huge impact simply by offering its associates a viable career path.”

Workers have transformed their jobs into careers when they gained a voice on the job and a seat at the bargaining table. Walmart associates could do the same if they had the means to negotiate for better job standards—but Walmart has fiercely resisted any effort by its U.S. workforce to form unions.

The report is co-authored by Nelson Lichtenstein, the MacArthur Foundation Chair in History and Director of the Center for the Study of Work, Labor, and Democracy at the University of California at Santa Barbara, and Erin Johansson, Research Director at American Rights at Work.

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Resources: http://www.americanrightsatwork.org/../../dmdocuments/ARAWReports/creatinghourlycareers_jan2011.pdf

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American Rights at Work is a nonprofit advocacy organization dedicated to promoting the freedom of workers to organize unions and bargain collectively with employers.


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