Huff Po: The deadline to sign onto the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh passed on Tuesday, and at least 14 major North American retailers declined to participate.
The agreement, which demands a five-year commitment from participating retailers to conduct independent safety inspections of factories and pay up to $500,000 per year toward safety improvements, has seen greater support abroad than in the U.S.
Major European retailers -- for example, Marks & Spencer and Carrefour -- have joined the agreement. Others who've signed on include companies recently involved with factory disasters in Bangladesh, such as Swedish retailer H&M and Italian fashion house Benetton. A 2010 factory fire at a facility that made cardigans for H&M killed 21 people, and Bennetton had a supplier in the Rana Plaza factory that collapsed last month, killing more than 1,100 people.
PVH, parent to Calvin Klein and Tommy Hilfiger, signed the accord, along with Abercrombie & Fitch, which agreed just hours before the deadline. That leaves plenty of U.S. retailers absent from the agreement, according to the Worker Rights Consortium, an international labor monitoring group. However, some retailers, like Walmart, claim they are working on separate initiatives to improve conditions and workplace safety in Bangladesh.
As Mother’s Day approached, Charlene Fletcher, mother of two, found herself occupied with the needs of other families, attending to the crush of shoppers last week at the Walmart in Pasadena, Calif., where she works.
On Mother’s Day itself, she would be in the store, making sure shoppers had one last chance to pick up a heart pendant or a personalized mug for mom. For the past four years, Fletcher has had to work every Mother's Day, along with every New Year's Eve, and nearly every weekend.
Like many employees at Walmart, the largest private employer in the United States, Fletcher is required to work whenever the company needs her, which almost always means spending weekends and holidays at the store.
Yet even as she makes available most of her working hours, she earns so little that she has to rely on government assistance to feed her kids. For Fletcher, 32, motherhood is not merely something to celebrate one day a year: it's the status that qualifies her for the federal Women, Infants and Children program, which provides mothers with vouchers that they can exchange for milk and fresh produce.
Relying on help from the government is "embarrassing," she said. "Nobody should have to do that, especially with what Walmart makes."
Fletcher earns $9.40 an hour, placing her among the growing ranks of workers around the country who are officially poor. Since the official end of the Great Recession, low-wage jobs have grown nearly three times as fast as better paying jobs, according to the National Employment Law Project.
Many of these workers are mothers and fathers. According to a recent report by the Working Poor Families Project, nearly one-third of all working families in the United States earn what the report defines as a low income, up from 28 percent in 2007, the first year of the recession.
Brandon Roberts, manager of the Working Poor Families Project, said that the data undermines notions that poverty is the result of laziness or irresponsibility while debunking the idea that the typical low-wage worker is a teenager making an extra buck after school.
"We know that these are people who are serious about work," he said. "They bring all the significant cultural habits and norms that we care about, and despite that, are still earning so little that they qualify as poor."
For Fletcher, being poor means living in a one-bedroom apartment with her husband, their 7-year-old and a baby.
"We all stay in one bedroom," she said. "We managed to get all three beds in here -- the crib, the twin and my grandmother's old-fashioned bed frame."
Although Fletcher's husband works full-time, the couple also qualifies for California's medical welfare program, which pays for Fletcher's asthma medicine and the children's shots and check-ups. Fletcher and her husband applied for the benefits shortly after she started working at Walmart, and Fletcher still gets heated when she thinks about her first meeting with the caseworker.
"All she could say was, 'Just be glad you even have a job,'" Fletcher recalled. "We all appreciate our jobs, but I kind of resent that remark. The problem is that this company is getting rich off the consumers and off what we do for them, and yet they don't give back."
A spokesman for Walmart said that the company promotes hundreds of people every day, including Mother's Day.
"We are proud of the thousands and thousands of moms who choose to work at Walmart, because they understand the opportunities they have to build a career and a better life for their families," said Kory Lundberg. "In fact, in many of our stores we see mothers working side by side their daughters and sons."
According to Fortune's recent ranking of America's 500 biggest companies, Walmart replaced ExxonMobile at the top of the list in 2012, posting revenues of $469.2 billion. In the days leading up to Mother's Day, the company was getting ready to bolster those earnings by taking advantage of the anticipated rush on gift baskets, cookie tins and crockery. A section of the retailer's website listed 191 possible gifts for mom, ranging from a customized "Hugs and Kisses" picture frame ($19.95) to a Ninja 3-in-1 Cooking System ($149.00).
Fletcher said she expected Mother's Day at the store to be stressful. Since she joined Walmart, she said, the store has cut staff and leaned on the remaining employees to fill in the gaps. Fletcher operates the phones, relaying calls between customers, managers, and workers, and said she often has trouble getting employees on the line. "They can barely maintain their departments, let alone answer a phone call," she said.
Retail isn't the only industry that pays low wages. Other major employers of low-wage workers include the government, hospitals and fast-food restaurants.
Ashley Sanders, who earns $7.35 an hour at a Hardee's restaurant in St. Louis, said she can barely afford to keep her 6-month-old baby fed, despite receiving help from WIC and food stamps.
"Formula only lasts him a good three or four days," she said. "Every three days I'm having to buy more formula."
WIC covers about eight cans a month, she said, leaving her to pay for the remaining $30 worth of formula herself. "It's difficult, and I wish that the corporation would understand that," she said.
After working for the worst place in the world, I have come across many customers and co-workers that continued to shock me at how utterly stupid they are.
I was hired as a temporary Produce worker. Being a temporary associate, you don't get any kind of discount. Even though your are helping the store make more money, you aren't even allowed the profit share that comes around. No benefits either.
Anyways, I liked Produce. I didn't have to wait on anyone, just direct people to the garlic. Easy. After New Year's Eve management informed me that I would not be on the new schedule, giving me the two weeks notice. At first I'm a little shocked because in my orientation they told everyone that 99% of the time, they hire people on permanently because of the huge turn-over rate.
They "let me go" and I was without a job for three months. Needless to say, I almost lost my apartment and had to borrow because no one would hire me. I applied back (having no other choice) and they put me in the deli as a permanent with about 50 cents more per-hour. Sounds good, right? Wrong.
Along with trying to maintain nasty fried food, we have to wait on THE PICKIEST PEOPLE IN THE WORLD. Here is ONE of the hundreds of stories. (Mind you, I've only been working in the deli since February).
There's this older guy that comes to the deli later in the night and always gets the same type of ham. He always wants it "THINLY SLICED". So, I think I'm a pretty intelligent person, I know what shaved is and what isn't, so I slice the 1/2 pound he wants. I give him the priced package and he throws it back on the counter. "This isn't what I wanted. I always come here, and you always do this to me. I want it sliced at least half that!"
Seriously. I just stand there and take in a breath. "Sir, if I slice it any thinner than that, it will be shaved."
"Fine, I want it shaved then." So I do a little experiment and slice it like one millimeter thinner. Meanwhile, he's bitching to his daughter and grandson. I give him the meat and he says "That's better."
I'm just glad there was a tall counter separating us or I would have whipped a slicer at him.
P.S. I used to be a nice, calm person. After working at Walmart, I would be perfectly fine being stranded on a desert island.
I put in an application at Hellmart online on Thursday after a day of McHell, and today (Saturday) I got a phone call - long story short, I have an interview on Tuesday to potentially work in the Meat Department. This will be my first retail job that isn't working with custys! Needless to say, I'm excited and a little nervous.
Thing is, only one person I work with at McHell's even knows I put in the application (I used her as a reference), and I put on the application that I'd be able to start immediately. Should I put in my two week's at McHell's and explain this to Hellmart at the interview? I really honestly never want to set foot in that place as an employee again, but I've never just up and walked out of a job without notice. I dunno, I've just always thought that looked really bad, as does saying "Oh,I'll totally quit my other job to work here!", you know?
Also, my schedule for this week is more than likely already made out at McHell's. How should I go about asking for Tuesday off to go to my interview?
Thanks, and wish me luck!
(Reuters) - Wal-Mart Stores Inc said on Monday that members of its board's audit committee were paid more for the latest year due to extra work they had to take on to handle an ongoing investigation into alleged foreign bribery.
The world's largest retailer also said in its annual proxy, filed with U.S. regulators late on Monday, that three board members would not stand for re-election at the company's June 7 annual meeting, and that Chief Executive Mike Duke and some other executives were paid more as sales and profit grew.
Back in November 2011, Wal-Mart began its own probe into matters including alleged violations of the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, and whether such matters were appropriately handled by the company.
The issue was brought into the public spotlight one year ago, when the New York Times published a report that described how Wal-Mart had intentionally stifled an early internal probe into allegations that Wal-Mart de Mexico officials had paid bribes to help build stores in Mexico.
During fiscal 2013, which ended in January, the audit committee met 15 times while other committees met five times or seven times, and the full board met six times, Wal-Mart said.
Members of the audit committee were paid an additional $60,000 fee, while the committee's chairman, Christopher Williams, received an $85,000 fee, the company said.
Wal-Mart said that due to the audit committee's extra work, it decided to double the cash portion of the annual retainer for audit committee members, and doubled the chair fee for the chair of the audit committee.
Williams earned $189,000 in fees for fiscal 2013, the most of any of the 15 board members who are not part of Wal-Mart's management team. Williams, who is chairman and CEO of investment bank Williams Capital Group, has been on Wal-Mart's board since 2004. In last year's board elections, when some shareholders voted against certain board members due to the foreign bribery allegation issue, 13.3 percent of votes were cast against him.
Wal-Mart spent $157 million last year on its probe of alleged bribery allegations in Mexico, Brazil, China and India, and on improvements to its compliance programs.
SORENSON, OTHERS LEAVING BOARD
The company said that James Breyer, the board's presiding director, and M. Michele Burns are each leaving the board after more than 10 years of service. Meanwhile, Arne Sorenson has decided to focus on his role as chief executive of Marriott International Inc . Sorenson is one of the members of the audit committee.
CEO Mike Duke earned $20.7 million last year, up from $18.1 million a year earlier, as the retailer continued to grow despite a sluggish U.S. economy and concerns over the alleged international bribery. Wal-Mart noted that Duke will earn a significant majority of his overall compensation only if the company meets certain performance goals.
Wal-Mart's total sales rose 5 percent to $466.11 billion in the fiscal year that ended in January, while earnings per share rose 10.6 percent to $5.02 per share. Sales at Walmart U.S., the company's largest unit, rose 3.9 percent to $264.19 billion.
Meanwhile, groups that often complain about Wal-Mart's business practices on Monday asked for the removal of Duke and Chairman Rob Walton, a son of deceased founder Sam Walton, from the board. The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union and its OUR Walmart subsidiary said that letters were sent to Wal-Mart's global ethics office calling for Wal-Mart's board to remove Duke and Rob Walton "for their failure in leadership in preventing the alleged bribery, trying to cover it up" and not taking meaningful action to fix internal problems.
The letters were dated April 22, which coincided with the anniversary of the publication of the New York Times report. The story was published online on April 21, 2012, and appeared in the April 22, 2012, print edition of the newspaper.
Shares of Wal-Mart slipped 0.4 percent to $77.97 on Monday and reached an all-time high of $79.28 one week ago.
From Huff Po:
Norma Joan Brennan, 79, was on her way to get driver's license restored Thursday when she crashed through the front doors of a Target store in Ocala, Fla., the Associated Press reported.
Brennan's passenger and the owner of the car, Rev. Kevin Holsapple, told police that he was giving her some driving tips in the parking lot when she pressed down on the gas pedal instead of the brake, according to the Ocala Star-Banner.
Brennan had held a driver's license for about 50 years before it was suspended due to a medical condition. On Thursday, Brennan and Holsapple were planning on heading to the driver's license center so she could get her freedom to ride back.
No one was injured in the incident, but Brennan got a citation for driving with a suspend license, and the pastor was cited for allowing an unlicensed driver to drive his vehicle.
Here's another Target crash that happened in Los Angeles in 2012. The driver of this car was a 70 year old woman who confused the gas with the brake. The car did not stop until she landed in the eletronics department. Three people were seriously injured. :
And this crazy custy car crash happened a few weeks ago at walmart:
By Nicole Santa Cruz, Los Angeles Times
A man was under arrest in San Jose after a bizarre car crash and attack Sunday at a Walmart.
Police are investigating what motivated the man to drive into the busy store.
“We don’t know if there was an intended target or not,” said Officer Albert Morales, of the San Jose Police Department.
At least four people were injured when the suspect crashed into the Walmart, exited the vehicle, picked up a blunt object from inside the store and began to assault customers, police said.
The man drove a red two-door car between 10 and 20 feet into the store on the east side of the city about 11:15 a.m., Morales said. Authorities have not released the identity of the man.
One of the customers suffered a serious injury and was taken to a local hospital. Three others were treated for non-life-threatening injuries, Morales said.
The man, who is about 30 years old, was arrested after a brief struggle with police. At least 70 people witnessed the crash, Morales said.
The driver made several laps around the store’s parking lot before crashing into the front entrance, witnesses told the San Jose Mercury News. A woman said the driver sideswiped her Honda in the parking lot while she was waiting for a spot.“At first I thought I may have done something to anger him while driving,” said Sharon Kaye, a teacher from San Jose. “But then I realized he was out to get into the store.”The driver was being held in a jail and is receiving mental evaluations and drug tests, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.Source: LA Times
Well RHU, you may or may not remember my discovery of Piglets, but I certainly do. I submit for your disapproval, photographic proof of the EXACT SAME SPOT IN THE EXACT SAME STORE... 5 months later...
It is clear to me that the Hellmart Slaves have sunk to the "No fucks given" level of Droidism, since thy know the little bastards are just going to mess it up again.
So far, my job at Hellmart is going okay. The worst I've had is a guy who got pissy because I refused to sell him beer when his only id was an expired operator's license and a lady who quietly fumed while my CSM ran back to electronics to grab a mouse with a UPC that wasn't supposed to be used as a display.
I also love when little children come through the line, like the 3-4 year old girl who was getting a new dolly and video game today who was soooo excited about it and was so happy when I gave her her own bag, or the little, maybe 18 month old boy who said bye-bye as his parents were leaving. But I'm not here about those. I'm here about a Hellmart policy that has me wanting to pull my hair out.
I started at the beginning of April. Hellmart policy is to request days off three weeks in advance. Okay, cool. No problem. I can do that. The way orientation works is they give us a paper schedule for our first three weeks, and we're supposed to cross off any days we already couldn't work. Except its never really an entire three weeks unless you have orientation on a Monday, which I did not. My orientation was on a Wednesday, giving me about two and a half weeks. I already had plans for April 20, in the afternoon. I'd be fine working the morning, but I don't want to skip out on the afternoon plans. This day happens to fall right after the paper sheet ended. I asked my trainer about it, he said write it down, it'll be fine.
Fast forward to a few days ago. I checked my schedule and see I'm scheduled from 11:30 to 7:30 on the 20th. I track down the trainer today before I hit the floor, he tells me to talk to the front end assistant manager, who was in today.
Okay, cool. Now the trick is finding him and getting him to stand still long enough to talk to him without wasting company time. I saw him maybe 5 times today. Each time, I had a line at my register or he was busy with another manager or customer or something. My shift ended, I clocked out and went looking for the AM. I couldn't find him, so I asked one of the CSMs if he was still in the building because I needed to ask him something about the schedule.
Here's the policy that's got me mad. She told me he is, but that he couldn't talk to me about it because I had already clocked out. Excuse me? So, you're telling me that the only way I can get a scheduling issue sorted out is by wasting company time, when I'm pretty sure Hellmart would much rather I be on the register?
I wouldn't even be able to call in to talk to him about it if I hadn't caught him today. My boyfriend works at a competitor, and he is encouraged to come in or call when he's not working to fix scheduling stuff.
Its bad enough I tried to get into the Hellmart system to set up my direct deposit the other night and was told I couldn't because I was clocked out. From what this policy sounds like, we're supposed to use our 15 minute paid breaks to request days off, check things on the Hellmart system, or hunt down managers to discuss things with them. Grrrrrr.... I get they don't want us working when not clocked in, in order to avoid breaking labor laws, but seriously? There are some work related things that are better off done off the clock so as to not waste company time. Gack!
And, by that logic, wouldn't that mean that I would technically be unable to discuss adding hours to my schedule if I get asked to pick up more hours on a day off, since I'd be off the clock and everything?
I did get the issue resolved, though. I managed to track the AM down, had a five minute conversation with him, and he was more than willing to adjust my hours for me. So now I'm off for my pre-Hellmart arranged plans, but it still ticks me off about what the CSM says. Part of me is hoping the CSM is just being overly conservative about the meaning of the policy, but part of me fears that is the actual policy.
Greetings Curious Scroller,
If you've never landed in this part of cyber space before, you have taken a hard, fast plunge into the fiery depths of work hell. RHU is dedicated to giving the service worker a voice. If you are an angry customer, a corporate suite, a homophobic race-hater, and you don't like skull masks or swear words, this blog isn't for you. Click away now, before your ears bleed and your eyes explode.
I'm Freddy, Crypt Keeper of Retail Hell Underground RHU -- a place for service slaves to have a voice, tell their story, support each other, or just have a chuckle about the insanity of working in the 10th Circle of Hell! I'm also the author of "Retail Hell," the funny memoir about life as a handbag sales associate at an upscale department store! The sequel, "Return To The Big Fancy," has just been released in hardcover and e-reader and is available wherever books are sold!