The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

Wal-Mart employees:
Underpaid, over worked

Jul 22, 2002

How would you like to work and not get paid for all the hours? Then don’t go to work for Wal-Mart.

According to lawsuits filed in a number of states, Wal-Mart “cheats” workers out of at least hundreds of millions of dollars in pay every year. A recent court case in Texas found at least one hour of unpaid work a week by workers being forced to work through their 15 minute breaks. Over four years time, the company underpaid 150 million dollars – just in Texas. In order to settle a suit in Colorado, Wal-Mart paid 50 million dollars to 69,000 workers it worked off the clock

Wal-Mart was shown to have locked the door after workers punched out, forcing them to work one or two unpaid hours straightening up the store. Workers testified this went on in California, Louisiana, New York, Ohio, Oregon and Washington.

The company also deleted workers’ timecard records to remove hours over 40 a week. Four payroll workers said that managers had them delete hours worked to avoid paying overtime. Dorothy English, an assistant in a Wal-Mart payroll department testified in a Louisiana court that when workers worked through breaks and had over 40 hours in a week her manager ordered her to edit the timecard in the computer. If workers complained right away they got their hours, “But if people waited too long, you didn’t get it. If you snooze, you lose.

Wal-Mart says it has a strong policy against off the clock work, which is stated in the handbook given to every worker. But what it says and what it does are two different things.

Of course, the biggest cheating Wal-Mart does is what it pays workers when it does pay them. Most Wal-Mart employees earn less than $8.50 an hour. Many earn the minimum wage of $5.15 an hour. That’s how Sam Walton turned himself into a billionaire and turned Wal-Mart into the largest retail chain in the country.

And this is the capitalist who talks about “an honest day’s work”!