No. of Recommendations: 6
What's below is from WMT’s official compensation policy, an internal document obtained by The Huffington Post. It's wordily titled the "Field Non-Exempt Associate Pay Plan, Fiscal Year 2013." What we see is a rigid pay structure for hourlies that makes it hard-to-impossible to exceed poverty-level wages.

I'm printing the whole document and giving it to DB, who's been at WMT since -04. Based on his experiences and observations, I've written several prior posts. His pay crossed the $10/hr. level this year, but that's little comfort since his health insurance is getting a big premium boost in Jan. On Thanksgiving, he's working two 5 1/2 hr. shifts, 6:30-noon and 4:30-10. That's not random scheduling--oh, no. That's typical "WMT LBYM"--no meal break unless you work 6 straight hrs. in one shift. Other WMT lbym's he's encountered were being asked to give back his undamaged pay envelope for further use and the cancellation in 2009 of one of the most-anticipated $$ items: a lump-sum bonus of several hundred dollars per worker if the store did not exceed a certain number of employee accidents for a calendar year.

The document cited was written for company managers. How Huffington obtained it, I have no idea. Though addressed to Sam's Clubs, the new 2013 plan applies to actual WMT's too. I'm going to use (*'s) in fragmentary form for a few highlights for brevity.

* plan is organized around 7 levels of difficulty, called Position Pay Grades, ranging from cart crew (Level 1) and cashiers (Level 3), to cake decorators (Level 4) and customer service mgrs (Level 6). Each subsequent grade offers 20-40 cents more than the previous level....base rate of pay for a top hourly position at Walmart, like a check-out supervisor, is $1.70 more than the lowest paying job.

* WMT terminology, a "solid performer" who starts as a cart pusher making $8/hr. and gets one possible annual promotion can expect to make $10.60 after working 6 years. (Ed. note: sounds good, but what about PRICES in 6 years' time? rent? insurance? child care? and for -013 specifically, besides the monstrous insurance premium escalation, what if political wrangling does take us "over the cliff" and workers' take-home pay is much less? Sobering)

*....Last year, about 180,000 hourly associates got promoted, according to the company’s site, or only 18% of Walmart’s 1 million U.S. hourly store associates. (lot of "UNsolid performers," huh?)

Finally, this woman's scary revelation:

A 40-year-old associate who has worked almost half her life now earns $19.53 an hour--a hefty wage for an hourly employee, but also the most she can ever hope for, given that she has already hit the company's cap. "After 19 years in retail, I guess what I make is OK. But if I stay with this company until I retire, I could be making the same wage for the next 25 years."

That calls for a spin on a well-known WMT ad: if she's right, she not only won't be "saving money," but she sure as hell probably won't be "living better" either.
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