Walmart raises pay, but only for some workers: Happy Labor Day

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Walmart raises pay? Not so fast. The nation’s largest employer, Walmart, is not giving a raise to more than half of its employees.

Walmart made headlines this week by raising pay to $15 an hour for some employees, instantly creating a second tier of lower paid employees within its the massive ranks of already low-paid workers.

That mean approximately 730,000 Walmart employees won’t be getting $15 an hour pay when the raise takes effect.

Walmart trailers parked at Schneider Logistics' facility in Mira Loma, Calif.
Walmart raises pay but only for some employees.
Walmart trailers parked at Schneider Logistics’ facility in Mira Loma, Calif.

Unlike its competitors, Target, Amazon and Costco — all of which now offer base pay of $15 an hour for all employees — the nation’s largest and most stingy private employer is keeping starting wages at $11 an hour.

Walmart’s US President and CEO John Furner said in a memo to employees obtained by CNN Business that starting on September 25, associates working in the retailer’s front end of the store, food and general merchandise units will get at least a dollar an hour increase. Furner noted in the memo that this was the third such raise in the past 12 months.

“Over the past year, we’ve raised pay for approximately 1.2 million hourly associates in our U.S. stores, increasing our U.S. average hourly wage to $16.40,” Furner said. Walmart’s current average pay for associates is $15.25.

Walmart has a history of raising wages and then cutting the hours of its employees, often negating the positive effect of the raise. When Walmart raised wages to $9 an hour in April 2015 the company, Bloomberg reported stores were ordered to slash hours.

Walmart is not giving these raises because it thinks it employees deserve them. Pressure to raise the federal minimum wage along with sustained advocacy by employee groups is forcing the retail behemoth’s hand.

Walmart is “trying to stay ahead of the curve, and not fall much behind other retailers” that have increased wages, such as Amazon, as well as cities and states that are raising their minimum wages, Harry Holzer, professor of public policy at Georgetown University who studies the minimum wage, told CNN in February when the retailer began making statement about rasing it pasy to $15 and hour.

Walmart is the largest corporate employer in the U.S. as well as the largest corporate employer of Black, Latinx, and women in the country. The corporation brings in more than $500 billion in revenue a year, according to United for Respect, a non-profit organization that has been advocating for Walmart employees since 2011.

“I’ve been working at Walmart for 11 years and only make $11.85, and most of us cashiers along with hundreds of thousands of others are once again left out of the raises Walmart is giving,” said Walmart cashier Mendy Hughes, a in a statement released by United for Respect after Walmart announced the pay raise. Hughes is a member of United for Respect, which describes itself as a national nonprofit that is not a labor union.

United For Respect says it successfully campaigned for Walmart to raise its starting wage to $11 an hour in 2018.

“Being a cashier in the COVID-19 pandemic is among the most dangerous jobs there is,” Hughes said. “Why is it so hard for the richest family in America to just do what they should have done years ago and raise base pay for all Walmart associates to $15/hour?”

“As heirs to the Walmart fortune, the Walton family own more wealth than 40% of everyone in the U.S.,” according to a United For Respect statement. “Despite this success, Walmart is increasing its reliance on an underpaid part-time workforce while associates across the board are experiencing cuts to our hours and benefits.”

In August, Walmart reported an adjusted second-quarter profit of $1.78 a share, beating forecasts for $1.56, on sales of $141.05 billion, topping estimates for $136.88 billion, according to MarketWatch.

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