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!
Two years ago, a single mother was forced to defend herself and her children in a Walmart riot. Now she has to defend herself from corporate bullying.
I represent the infamous Black Friday Walmart pepper spray shopper and her two children in a civil case brought against Walmart. Her side of the story has never been told. Immediately following the events, media surrounded her home, hounded her family and called her place of work. As her attorneys, we needed to let the police investigate and then, if necessary, she could speak. Her children were injured, she was injured, and Walmart, along with a handful of customers looking for their 15 minutes of fame, demonized her. Walmart is notorious for vilifying the customer instead of taking responsibility for their substandard safety procedures and the actions of their untrained employees.
This past week, CBS came knocking again. We had been previously approached by a multitude of media outlets from Dr. Phil to Telemundo. An interview with a well known reporter from CBS was scheduled and rescheduled, with CBS claiming this to be the perfect chance for my client to tell her side of the story. As good as that sounded, the prospect of having my client’s story once again manipulated for ratings was a real possibility. And given recent settlement discussions with Walmart, it was apparent that they were going to continue to attack and ridicule my client with lies, threats and obvious racism. Not that it should matter, but it does when one is dealing with Walmart: My clients are second and third generation Americans who happen to be of Hispanic descent as are almost half of the residents of Los Angeles County.
Black Friday started as Black Thursday and Walmart’s shopping ‘event’ turned into a melee.
Black Friday: A day that is defined by crowds of customers jockeying for position to obtain merchandise that is priced well below retail price and found in very limited quantities. This is done in an attempt to lure customers to the stores in hopes they purchase much more than the advertised specials.
But in this economic climate, retailers have become so competitive, they now have Black Thursdays, making Thanksgiving a day of shopping instead of a day of family, turkey and football. Walmart is one of the greatest offenders of this holiday. Along with forcing its employees to work on Thanksgiving, they care little for their customers, their customers’ safety and the safety of their employees. While my clients’ actual injuries were not life-threatening, this event could have just as easily turned tragic. Three years earlier, in New York, an employee of Walmart was trampled to death on Black Friday leading to an OSHA fine (that still hasn’t been paid) and numerous lawsuits as well as a promise to handle future events safely—but only in New York. Our event took place on the other side of the country—California.
Walmart advertised X-Box consoles and games at drastically reduced prices. My client, a woman in her thirties, is a single mother of three children. She is but one of the millions of working poor responsible for her children and in her case, she also has the added responsibility of her mother’s and her disabled aunt’s care. I have known her most of her life and she is a good and caring woman, mother, daughter and niece. She, like most of us, would like to provide her family with everything they desire but, financially, she simply can’t. She needs to stretch a dollar into five and Walmart advertised an opportunity for her to provide her children with gifts she could never afford under any other scenario.
Contrary to the lies put forth by Walmart, she was not a “competitive shopper.” Walmart used this term when they described my client to the media and to the authorities on scene to make it appear as if my client was an experienced Black Friday shopper who gamed the system, the crowds and the events at many stores to beat out other customers. She, in fact, is an ordinary shopper who had on occasion attended post-Thanksgiving sales events in malls looking for pre-Christmas bargains. She had never waited in lines or rushed stores in “dash for cash savings” type events. She had never attended a Walmart Black Thursday or Friday event before this one. She has not been back to Walmart since she and her children were punched and attacked by other customers with Walmart employees looking on but unable or unwilling to help. Walmart failed my client, her children, their customers and their front-line employees, just as they have in many stores in many states including the New York disaster involving the death of an employee.
The store doors were open. Crowds of shoppers were milling around the store where covered pallets of merchandise were placed in different locations. My client and two of her children made their way to the pallet with the X-Boxes. They were the first 3 to arrive at this particular pallet. They were placed in front of and photographed at the pallet, where they remained, with elbows resting on the tarp, until all hell broke loose hours later as Walmart’s employee manager incited a riot.
Here they are, right on top the pallet. Clearly, they didn’t need to fight their way to the pallet:
Pepper spray was used in self-defense as Walmart shoppers viciously attacked those who had the X-Boxes and X-Box games.
One does not need to be a CSI investigator to prove that Walmart lied about my client and her use of pepper spray. Knowing that my clients were first in line destroys Walmart’s claim that my client used pepper spray to gain an advantage. She simply had to pick up an X-Box, or X-Box games, turn and leave. Her twelve year old daughter and fifteen year old son could do the same and all the children would then have had a very special Christmas.
A Walmart employee on a megaphone shouted at the shoppers to let the Walmart employees “get out of harm’s way” before the tarp would be removed. Could there be a more telling statement of foreknowledge? As the employees scrambled in what can only be described as a melee, shoppers in the back pushed forward, screaming and lunging for the boxes on the pallet. My client and her children had already reached for their game box and attempted to turn and leave when they were viciously attacked. A grown woman who had been waiting behind my client jumped my client’s twelve year old. As she struggled with the woman attacking her child, a large man straddled my client’s son twisting his arms trying to wrestle the package from his arms. My clients were thrown to the ground, had their hair pulled, were stomped and socked in the face. As the crowd continued to push forward, my client grabbed her pepper spray attached to the strap of her purse to save her children.
Read more at: www.addictinginfo.org
From Huff Po:
Think Walmart’s CEO-to-worker pay ratio is high? You ain’t seen nothing yet.
Walmart CEO Mike Duke's retirement package of more than $113 million is nearly 6,200 times bigger than the average 401(k) balance of a non-executive Walmart worker, which was $18,303, according to a new analysis by Dana Lime at NerdWallet, a personal finance site.
That dwarfs Walmart’s infamous CEO-to-worker pay ratio, a source of controversy for the company in the past. Duke, who pulled in $20.7 million last year, made 305 times more than the typical Walmart manager and 836 times more than the median Walmart worker’s salary, according to the NerdWallet study. A separate report earlier this year by the salary information site PayScale pegged the CEO-to-worker pay ratio at 1,034.
Walmart’s CEO-to-worker retirement ratio was the largest of the ten companies surveyed by NerdWallet. There was really no contest. (Story continues after graphic.)
In an interview with The Huffington Post, Walmart spokesperson Brooke Buchanan took issue with the study’s description of Duke’s retirement package as a pension, noting that it is technically a deferred compensation plan that accrues over time.
“Our CEO has been with us since 1996, and so [the compensation package] is obviously something that’s been acquired over many years,” Buchanan said.
As for Duke's pay package, that is merely the result of a competitive marketplace and the need to retain top talent, Buchanan said.
“We are the world’s largest retailer, and this [the CEO job] is a pretty tough job,” Buchanan said. “We want to make sure the right person is in that job. We have a responsibility to our shareholders to have the right people in the job.”
Data at FindTheCompany.com show Duke's annual pay began to soar in 2007, mainly due to large awards of restricted stock.
Less than half of Walmart store workers earned more than $25,000 last year, according to a October calculation by HuffPost’s Dave Jamieson.
To be fair, many of the jobs offered by the retailer are entry-level, and the company handed out $770 million in quarterly bonuses to sales associates last year, according to Buchanan.
Still, here's just how pitiful Walmart 401(k) balances are: The country’s largest 401(k) provider, Fidelity Investments, announced Thursday that its average 401(k) account balance in September was around $84,000 -- more than four times that of the typical Walmart employee.
To come up with a CEO-to-worker retirement ratio, NerdWallet used company proxy statements to find the value of Duke’s pay and retirement, a Brightscope analysis of IRS data to get workers' 401(k) values, and Bureau of Labor Statistics data for Walmart worker pay.
So, a bit of a reverse retail gripe here.
A few weeks ago, I put some items on lay-away at Walmart. Each weekend, when I do my shopping, I make a payment on it at check-out. Only the first time I did this, did the cashier know how to actually do it.
The second time, the cashier called over a supervisor and had to be shown what to do. (Very simple, as it turns out. Scan the bar code on my lay-away receipt, punch in the amount I want to pay, hit enter.)
The third time I paid, again the cashier didn't have a clue how to do it. I told him what he needed to do, and he started to do it, but got nervous about screwing it up and stopped. Co-worker comes over to help but is saying, "I think you have to do it as a separate transaction." I told them that none of my other payments were separate, and they finally gave in and tried it my way.
Why, oh why, do I have to train all the employees at this store on lay-away payments?! I can't possibly be the only person in this city who is actually making payments on a lay-away account.
Bayfield man who suffered a brain injury in 2005 and has been working as a greeter at Walmart in Durango was fired Monday, setting off outrage among those who know him.
Matt Wood, who took the job in 2008, was fired from his position for not clocking in on time after lunch breaks, said Traci Barnes, Wood’s mother.
Family and friends said Wood deserves a second chance.
They said Walmart officials should have notified his wife about the problems involving his timecard, because she is his representative and is best suited to eliminate any distractions causing his unwanted behavior.
The retail giant may be in violation of the Americans With Disabilities Act in providing “reasonable accommodations” for handicapped employees, some say.
Kayla Whaling, a spokeswoman for Wal-Mart Stores Inc., said the corporation takes these cases very seriously and takes time to be thorough in investigating the matter.
“We are currently looking into the situation further, and we’ll handle it appropriately once we know more,” Whaling said.
Reports began circulating Friday on social media that Matt Wood had been rehired, but Whaling said those reports are false, although his reinstatement is a possibility.
Nadine Barber, who advocated on Wood’s behalf, forwarded a screen shot from Durango Walmart’s Facebook in which the store said it had offered Wood his job back. The post reads:
“Sometimes we have to take a step back and look at the situation from another perspective. Our current policy exists with everyone’s safety in mind and we understand there could be some room for interpretation. While we understand (a manager’s) intentions were good, at the time we believed there were some additional safety concerns. That being said, we have offered him his job back and welcome him back to the store.”
No one interviewed for this story knows specifically who posted the statement.
“The two biggest things that we wanted were that he be able to revolve his work schedule around the bus, which they were very good at,” she said. “And that I, as his wife and representative, be notified whenever anything needed to be discussed regarding him.”
The family had good relations with former managers, she said, but changes occurred and eventually communication was lost.
New managers cited problems with Wood’s time management. Jessica Wood removed his Kindle and cellphone to avoid distractions, she said.
After taking that action, a manager said he was doing a good job, and people loved him, she said.
“I was completely blown away and shocked when he got home on Monday and told me he didn’t have a job anymore.” his wife said.
Matt Wood didn’t take the news lightly either.
“To him, it felt very personal and disappointing, because he does try and loves his job,” she said.
Barnes, is advocating on behalf of her son and his desire to help provide for his family.
“He’s trying to do the best that he can,” she said.
In 2005, during his junior year at Utah Valley University, Wood was involved in a car crash that left him with severe brain damage. He was majoring in computer science and had been married to his wife, Jessica, for about 10 months, Barnes said.
Despite the doctor’s prediction, Wood recovered from his coma and was not left in a vegetative state, Barnes said.
Now living in Bayfield with two sons, the Woods both work to provide income for their family and pay for rehabilitation expenses.
Matt Wood helps make house payments, Barnes said.
Wood lost his disability income for working too much, said Jessica Woods, and the loss of his income from Walmart has been stressful.
She said she is grateful to the community for the support it has given her and her husband. Matt and Jessica Wood have been contacted by a representative from Wal-Mart’s corporate office saying it is investigating the matter.
The corporation is deliberating whether Matt Wood will be reinstated, Jessica Wood said.
My poor coworker had the worst customer she's had in the ten years she's been a Hellmart slave, according to her. This coworker is an older lady who has a lot of sass and likes to try and cause some trouble at work, in good fun, but when it comes to customers, they seem to like her. This crusty, though, holy cow.
For the past few days, its been slightly busier than normal. I was one register in front of my coworker when this happens. I'm busy killing my line, when I hear somebody behind me getting increasingly loud. I figure its an impatient customer waiting for a CSM to come override something or price check or something, because she started yelling our CSM's name to get her to hurry. I started paying more attention when she started yelling at customers trying to get in line behind her to move it.
What got this woman's panties in a twist? She wrote a check for over $200, and the computer wanted her phone number. The number is only used in the event her check bounces so somebody can contact her to collect payment. The crusty absolutely refused to give a number, house or cell, because somebody would use her number to track her house down and rape her. She kept yelling this over and over.
The CSM is new (like, 3 weeks new), so she doesn't know everything she can and can't do yet, and this crusty is yelling at her to override it, which the CSM can't, so she calls up an AM. AM can't override it, and tells crusty that. Crusty finally relents, still yelling about getting raped because of this. She even accuses my coworker of plotting to use her number to come and rape her.
What gets me is, this apparently isn't the first time management has had to deal with this lady. Every time the crusty uses a check, and it asks for her phone number, this song-and-dance happens. Why does she think it would change between the last time she shopped and now? Really?
Workers at a Walmart store in Hialeah Gardens, Fla., walked off the job Friday morning in protest of management, demanding that they be given full-time work.
It wasn't clear early Friday afternoon how many workers took part in the strike, and Walmart said it doesn't know how many employees were involved.
In a photo of the scene emailed to The Huffington Post, one man held up a sign reading, "Queremos Nuestras 40 Horas," or "We Want Our 40 Hours."
One striking worker, Jose Bello, told Salon that he thinks as many as 80 workers from the store took part in the demonstration. "I have four years here,” Bello said. "They’re give [sic] me twenty-nine hours…as a human being, I want forty hours."
Kory Lundberg, a Walmart spokesman, said some employees aren't getting full-time work because they say they're only available on certain days and hours. He said 70 percent of the workers in Hialeah Gardens are full-time.
"We do have some workers who've narrowed their availability to times when there are fewer customers in the store," Lundberg said. "We certainly want every associate to be able to build a schedule that meets their needs ... That means having people available to work nights and weekends."
Notably, the United Food and Commercial Workers Union and OUR Walmart, a UFCW-backed organization of Walmart workers, said they played no role in organizing the walkout. OUR Walmart led the small but rolling strikes that took place at Walmarts around the country after Thanksgiving last year.
According to NBC 6 Florida, dozens of protesters were outside the store Friday morning. Reporter Laura Rodriguez said that a Walmart human resource representative asked to meet with the disgruntled workers individually, only to be rebuffed, with the crowd chanting, "All of us or none of us."
A lack of full-time hours has been a common gripe at the world's largest retailer, as in much of the retail industry at large. Many of the Walmart workers who took part in previous walkouts have told HuffPost and other news outlets that their part-time schedules made it even harder to get by.
Walmart says that a "majority" of its workers are full-time, or logging at least 34 hours per week, but the company does not disclose an exact percentage.
Sent to RHU by Hiedi:
From Web Pro News:
Kristopher Oswald, an employee at a Michigan Walmart, was fired from his job after defending a woman who was apparently being attacked in the parking lot. Now, after reviewing the case and realizing his intentions were good, the company has offered Oswald his job back.
“The last thing I expected was to not have a job,” Oswald said. “I don’t even know what to put on an application about all of this. How do I say this ended?”
Oswald described the incident saying he was taking his break at around 2:30 a.m. in his car when he heard a woman screaming. He saw a man hanging onto the hood of the woman’s car. He first thought they were simply goofing off, but then realized the woman was actually in danger when the man turned on him, began attacking him, and said “I’m going to kill you!”. Just as he thought he may have things under control, two other men jumped him from behind. Luckily, the Livingston County Sheriff deputies made it in time to break the fight up before it escalated more than it already had.
Oswald never expected to lose his job for being a good Samaritan. However, that is exactly what happened. He received termination papers that read: “after a violation of company policy on his lunch break, it was determined to end his temporary assignment”.
After the story gained national attention, Walmart has offered Oswald his job back, saying his intentions “were good”.
Now, Oswald has to make the decision of whether or not to take his job back. When asked if he was going to accept the offer, he sighed and said he wasn’t sure. However, he is sure about one thing, and that is that he “will always do the right thing”.
UPDATE: As of Sunday October 20, Oswald has not replied to Hellmart's offer. Hope he gets a better offer!
Another example of why Walmart executives are heartless robots and the Walmart family are the evil aliens that created them.
Sent to RHU by Cosmetics Hellhound:
From Progressive Populist:
What has this country come to when a store employee cannot even help someone without a serious risk of being fired? Or, as we reported a few days ago, going after a shoplifter and getting fired, as a Lowe’s employee found out.
Kristopher Oswald, a 30-year-old employee of a Walmart in Michigan, found out the hard way that helping a female who was being assaulted by a male in the parking lot that trying to do the right thing is not always the right thing to do – if you want to keep your job, that is.
Oswald was working the overnight shift and was sitting in his car taking a meal break when he heard a ruckus elsewhere in the parking lot. He got out and walked towards the ruckus to see what was going on, and got attacked by the male who had been harassing and assaulting the female. The man punched Oswald in the head while yelling “I’m going to kill you”. Oswald was able to get on top of and restrain the man, but two other males came from behind and jumped him.
The cops showed up after that and broke it up. Our sources do not say who, if anyone, was arrested over the incident.
Oswald then found out that he had been fired by Walmart. He had worked there just 7 weeks and would have been a permanent employee after a 180-day probation period.
When asked if he would respond the same way again, he replied, “I will always do the right thing.”
Oswald says Walmart has policies against workplace violence to prevent employees from assaulting co-workers or tackling a shoplifter, but it would appear that nothing allows for them to assist in situations of imminent danger and self-defense.
We understand that these big box retailers are overly cautious about liability and potential lawsuits being filed against them, and they have strict company guidelines to follow as a result, but if Oswald was on an unpaid lunch break, is the company still liable for his actions? And what if the assailant had been in the process of killing the women who was victimized in this situation? Is Oswald supposed to stand there and watch, thinking that he’d get fired if he tried to intervene? How would he have lived with himself had that happened?
Is our society so litigant happy that employees can’t step into these kinds of situations out of fear of losing their jobs?
The state-managed funds that invest Swedes' pension contributions have retracted all their investments in Walmart due to concerns over how the American retail giant treats its employees.
"It's a welcome and wise decision," said Lars-Anders Häggström, head of retail workers trade union Handels, which has argued that Swedish pension money be kept clear of companies that are "world leaders in union busting". Freedom of assembly and association is protected by the conventions of the International Labour Organization (ILO).
Contributions to the state-managed pension scheme in Sweden are managed by several distinct funds, entitled collectively the AP Funds (AP-fonderna). The first, third and fourth of the six separate investment entities owned shares in Walmart, but they will now be sold off according to a statement released on Monday.
"We simply couldn't conceive why the AP Funds would invest in Walmart, when their behaviour is well-known," Häggström told The Local
In early September, Handels, which represents 150,000 employees in the Swedish retail sector, addressed an open letter to the AP Funds' Ethics Council asking that it look into the investments in the American retail giant, saying that owning shares was "so stupid it is embarrassing" as well as "unethical".
"Our union members have expressed astonishment when they found out their pension savings were invested in Walmart," Häggström told The Local. "If we influenced the AP Funds' decision today, we are of course delighted."
In a press release on Monday, the managers of the AP Funds announced they were also divesting from the companies Freeport Mcmoran, Incitec Pivot, and Potash due to ethical concerns.
Empty soulless people. May they choke on the pennies they attempt to save.
From Gawker: Four members of the Walton family, heirs to Sam Walton's Wal-Mart fortune, are collectively worth more than $100 billion— more wealth than the entire bottom 40% of Americans. They are doing everything in their power not to give up a penny more than they have to.
The Waltons are the richest family in the world. They are the new Rockefellers, the modern synonym for "vast wealth." And indeed, income inequality in America has reached levels not seen since John D. Rockefeller roamed the earth. The Waltons are the kings and queens of our new Gilded Age.
Reasonable people, I suppose, can disagree on the morality of amassing such mind-boggling wealth. What most reasonable people would agree on, I think—what we would regard as basic human decency and common sense—is that it is not healthy for such great wealth to exist in perpetuity, passed down from generation to generation endlessly, creating ever-larger dynasties, until America is even more of an unequal plutocracy with unequal opportunity than it already is. This is why estate taxes exist. We have agreed, as a society, that at least some of these huge piles of wealth should be put back into the public coffers when their rich owners die. Not all of the wealth; not even most of the wealth; just enough to get some back in circulation, for the good of everyone, and to try to do something to slow down the creation of personal billionaire kingdoms.
Quite a few billionaires, including Warren Buffett and Bill Gates, have pledged to give away almost all of their fortunes to charity. The Waltons take a different approach. They have decided to hoard as much of their fortunes as possible. They have decided to use each and every tax loophole possible in order to keep their money in their own family, and not to allow the public to claim a single dollar more in taxes than they absolutely have to. In Bloomberg today, Zachary Mider has an excellent in-depth report today on the strategies the Walton family uses to avoid estate and inheritance taxes on their fortune, which has been built on the backs of extremely low-paid workers. One of their favorite techniques: establishing a type of charitable trust that can shelter money from taxes, and later put that money back into the pockets of family heirs. Sometimes, with a profit!
If the trust’s investments outperform that benchmark rate, then the extra earnings pass to the designated heirs free of any estate tax...
With a big enough spread between the actual performance and the IRS rate, a Jackie O. trust can theoretically save so much tax that it leaves a family richer than if it hadn’t given a dime to charity...
“This time in history is probably going to go down as a unique opportunity” to “transfer assets out of an estate at the lowest cost,” said Charles J. McLucas, president of Charitable Trust Administrators Inc. in Tustin, California.
So the next time you hear about how fabulous the Walton family's opulent new art museum is, or how much money the Walton family has given to land conservation, remember that all of that charity is part and parcel of a structure designed expressly to hoard billions of dollars within this one single family, and to avoid paying the normal tax rates that have been levied for the purpose of a tiny step towards equality. And also remember that all of the millions and millions of workers who made those billions and billions of dollars possible are trapped in a world of low wages, and are prevented from unionizing and bettering their own situation by the zealous efforts of Wal-Mart.
The Walton family's very existence is an insult to the American dream.
[Bloomberg. Photo: AP]
Huff Po: The New York Police Department arrested three Walmart protesters in New York City on Thursday during demonstrations against the company's wages and protections, according to Making Change At Walmart, a coalition of Walmart worker advocates.
The protesters planned to deliver a petition to company board member Christopher Williams at the time of their arrests, Making Change At Walmart spokesperson Evan Yeats said in an interview with The Huffington Post. There are no Walmarts in New York City, but protesters wanted to deliver the petition directly to Williams' office.
The petition called for a minimum full-time starting salary of $25,000 and better worker protections.
Barbara Gertz, a current Walmart employee in Denver, Colorado, was among those arrested, Yeats said. Lucas Handy, a former Walmart associate from Iowa who was fired for speaking out against the company, and Susan Gulick, a former Walmart associate from South Carolina, were also arrested, according to Yeats.
Despite the arrested protesters all being current or former Walmart employees, Walmart spokesperson Kory Lundberg said in an email to HuffPost that these demonstrations are "just a show."
"[W]ith very few exceptions, the cast members don’t work for Walmart nor are they affiliated with the company in any way," he added.
Organizers say the protests will be the largest mobilization of workers since last year's Black Friday strikes, which spread to 100 cities on one of the busiest shopping days of the year. This time around, strikers are demanding a full-time starting salary of at least $25,000 and better protections for workers.
“Walmart, we cannot wait any longer for you to do the right thing for American workers," Walmart worker Cindy Murray said in a press release. "Our jobs should not be at risk when we speak out about improvements that would help our families and Walmart customers."
Walmart CEO Michael Duke has previously fought claims that his company is a low-wage employer. "Less than one percent" of Walmart associated make the minimum wage, he said in an interview on CNBC.