As a cashier at wal-mart, I am following with interest the Our Wal-mart and Blitz(Black Friday) protests taking place. I want to state that at my store, as one of our cashiers put it, "we are too much like sheep to do anything like that here". But below the orange squiggly line, here is what life is like for a vast majority of workers at my store.
Three weeks ago, one of our Customer Service Managers(CSM) was crying behind the service desk counter. With four days to go until payday, she could not afford the eight dollars for the medicine her very sick husband needed. We on the front end got together, and managed to get a gift card for her with $49.00 on it. I am pretty sure pride wouldn't let her take the cash, and that's why we went that route. That same hour I was hitting up people for any spare change they could give us, I gave out about $300.00 dollars in charitable donations to organizations that petitioned our store for them. All of them seemed very grateful, but I was thinking, if you only knew that the CSM who unlocked the office to get you your $100.00 could have used that card, you might not be so grateful. On second thought, I don't think they would actually care, because see, in this community, if you work at Wal-mart, you must be virtually unemployable and scummy, and probably deserve the low pay.
2. One of our grocery associates came to me. He used to be a brilliant draftsman but due too several small strokes can't do much more than work three days a week. He is always nice, and I make him sweet potato pies when I can. Charley was so excited. This year he is getting a tub of food donated by our store. Our store manager is hand delivering them to his house, and he is really excited, it will have a ham and a turkey. Most of the canned goods though, are donated by the working poor who work at our store, because wal-mart will only donate the turkey and hams this year. As he is excitedly telling me about his tub of food, and I was trying to follow his story, trying to figure out why he was getting this, I asked, who is giving you this? " he looked at me, exasperated, And said, "The store, Wal-mart, they decided I was poor enough for the holiday tub of food." The thing I was thinking and didn't say, because he was so excited about it, and I didn't want to crush his spirit, was wouldn't it be great if your store cared enough to pay you a living wage so you wouldn't need it to donate food to you at the holidays?"
3. One of our hardware associates has a young son who needs therapy. As Tim was walking out the door the other day, I looked down and noticed his shoes, in a northern Minnesota winter, has holes in them. he caught me looking at them and said, "yeah, kid needed a new therapy toy, so I think I might wait until next payday but you know how things come up" I am going to slip him a gift card too to buy new shoes this pay period.
So, when your family and friends talk about the $78.00 TV that is on sale this Friday, show them this and ask them to stay home. And while I cannot organize a union, I need this job for two more months at least, (you can email me and ask why) this is why we need one, and and why I will covertly do everything I can support OUR WAL-MART in their efforts for better pay and better working conditions.