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Behind The Warehouse Doors: A Look into the Treatment of Wal-Mart Associates Part I

Updated on January 7, 2011

As a member of this society we live in, I among with many others strive to move upward intellectually and economically into society. However, there are some instances where many hard working individuals are caught in the static of corporate world, and are left with no route of escape. Well, there is an escape, and it is the dreams and aspirations of the individual. However, Wal-Mart does their best to kill these dreams and make them impossible to achieve; whether it is financial reasons, or whether you don't think you have the time, they do their best to mentally demean and stricken their associates with poverty. Wal-Mart makes it so you cannot move upward in the company, therefore you cant really make more money to go anywhere in life. I am not writing this just to rant against Wal-Mart because I look from afar and disapprove of their business practices, I worked there and my wife still works there. We both witnessed and has been victimized what Wal-Mart management did to us and others. Wal-Mart is a multi-billion dollar corporation that mistreats their associates by mentally demeaning them, paying them unfair wages, giving unfair promotions, favoring associates over others, and providing an overall disrespect towards associates.

Favoritism and Limited Upward Mobility

What many don't realize, Wal-Mart associates are promoted on the basis of who the promoting associate "likes" personally, and it is not based on performance. When I worked at Wal-Mart, my supervisor once told me that, "You do not have to be a hard worker to get moved up, you have to joke around with management". I was puzzled because this person was also a hard worker while also being professional at his job, however there are instances of poor promoting. For example, there was a gentleman that followed an assistant manager around all of his workday, they became friends, and then a few months down the road, this person became a support manager. Just to clarify, this person was not leadership material, he was not professional, he was not a good worker whatsoever. I witnessed this individual openly calling out people and sexually harassing people. They have often hired supervisors that come to work intoxicated on drugs and they were often overlooked. Wal-Mart's promotion system is a poor system that only promotes individuals based off of favoritism and also utilizes a testing system that is often inaccurate to what is needed to be a leader.

Wal-Mart allows very limited upward mobility when it comes to promotions. They have a testing system that assesses them and places them in a ranking system. Okay, that does not sound bad, but associates are often told that they passed, when in reality, they did not truly pass the test. Those associates who "pass" are placed on a bottom tier and often not looked at for promotion. Non management associates often do management work and do not get compensated for their efforts; in fact, their efforts are often overlooked. Individuals who work at Wal-Mart will often be trapped in one working position, therefore unable to be transferred as well as promoted. In fact, my wife worked at Wal-Mart for 7 years in the same position; she passed the "leadership" test on the second tier and also received upper ranking annual performance evaluations for 4 consecutive years. Also she is acclaimed by many customers for her excellent service and apparently she is not leadership material? There are also many cases of this failure in upward mobility that Wal-Mart associates have to endure. I worked on the unloading crew for 5 years without any training on anything in the department that I worked. Forklift and powerlift operators were often needed, but they would never train me for any piece of equipment. For 3 years I often asked management if I could get trained on the equipment and was often denied. This case happens often to many others who want to achieve further goals with the company, but Wal-Mart often certified many associates who were not in need of the training. Wal-Mart ignores their so-called "Career Preference Dashboard" and only allows certain associates to change positions, especially the unloading crew. It is well known by the crew that is is nearly impossible for an un-loader to move anywhere within the company. Wal-Mart does not offer a choice in career; Wal-Mart only offers empty promises.

Poor Treatment of Associates and Low Wages

While working at Wal-Mart, they tend to give you this idea that associates should strive for excellence. They also still use quotes from Sam Walton and they also state that they use the "Three Basic Beliefs" and those so-called 3 basic beliefs are "Respect for the Individual", "Service to our Customers", and "Striving for Excellence". It is hard to see how these basic beliefs are implemented when Wal-Mart consistently fails on all three of them. Also, Wal-Mart pays very low wages, especially when it comes to jobs that are strenuous.

The first of Wal-Mart's 3 basic beliefs is "Respect for the Individual". Wal-Mart often to fails to abide by this belief by constantly insulting their associates by mentally demeaning and harassing them. I have been witness to many instances of management insulting associates. Instead of professionally addressing concerns with associates, they are openly arrogant and ignorant when dealing with issues with their associates. One day, I was addressing an issue with an assistant manager and instead of saying, "sure, Ill take care of this situation" he openly says, "I don't care about what you have to say, the situation is not going to change." How can you "Strive for Excellence" if you cant even address concerns with management. Also, one day the same manager told me that they are instructed by corporate to harass different associates on a daily basis. Management are often mentally demeaning to associates for they often insult associates on ideals of common sense to proclaim superiority over the associate. Another major issue with how Wal-Mart manages workers, is when an associate consistently fails to finish a task properly, they often give the unfinished work to another associate without any type of disciplinary action done to the troubled associate. While working at Wal-Mart, I have seen this happen on a weekly basis, it became burdensome for the associates that had to do other associates work.

Because of the poor treatment that associates have to endure and the workload that is forced upon them, associates are not paid what they deserve. Also, because associates are paid so little for what they do, they often have to utilize government assistance such as welfare to support a family. You can technically be an associate for Wal-Mart for 7 years, get numerous level 3 pay raises (exceeding expectations), while also working in a level 5 pay level (level 1 associates make minimum wage) and still not make $12 an hour or 23,000 a year. Assistant managers make drastically more, but in many cases it takes 7 to 10 years to become an assistant manager. Becoming an assistant manager can take less time but it is rare.

Department management recently had their workload doubled and they were not compensated at all for the added workload. Instead of one department, department managers were given two or more departments to cover; for the added responsibility and workload, these associates make 40 cents more than their subordinates. Associates often are instructed to work in areas which are higher pay even though they are not being compensated for the pay. Associates who work in truck unloading areas often make less than ten dollars an hour starting wage. With the constant repetition of stacking heavy boxes (up to 50 lbs) and the pulling of 2,000lb pallets some weighing in at almost 3200lb to 3800lb, makes the job definitely not worth the pay. Also a dollar raise could be possibly achieved in 3 years but it is very difficult and unlikely; this applies to the entire store except the assistant managers and higher management. The workload that all associates do is certainly worth more than that is paid to them.

As you are reading this you are probably asking, "why are these people dealing with this and why can't they just simply quit and go work elsewhere?" Think about it this way, you would find most Wal-Marts in rural areas where there are usually small family owned businesses. Because of this recession we are in, these family business generally can only afford to hire family. Because of this recession, it makes it so Wal-Mart can treat their employees however they want to because if someone quits or gets terminated, there is always some new person who needs the job and can be hired on the spot. Everyone who works at Wal-Mart is labeled as "replaceable" and Wal-Mart has no trouble telling their associates that. Granted, not all Wal-Mart stores are like this, but too many are.

The reason why I am writing this is because I feel that people need to know that Wal-Mart is the modern institution of neo-slavery; instead of affecting one race, it affects the American people. Wal-Mart is dominant in the retail business and also number one on the fortune 500 list, they also made $408.21 billion dollars in 2009; why could they not at least pay their associates what they deserve? There is action that is needed to be done and that should done by everyone, the consumer and the associate. We as a society should not allow this company to further spread into rural areas or in fact, anywhere else! We should write to Wal-Mart and protest to them that they need to treat their associates with fairness and respect, pay them fair wages with better raises, and management needs to become more responsible on who they hire for their support managers and assistant managers. Changes need to happen and I am looking to the readers to take action and hopefully evoke an inner intelligence and independence to these associates. I must ask all fellow Americans to take a stand, because there is a new modern reason why Wal-Mart is not unionized.

Please write to Wal-Mart at

Walmart Home Office
702 SW 8th Street
Bentonville, Arkansas

Also, check out this video, is reinforces many of the things that I wrote in this hub.

"Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price"

Keep an eye out for my next hubs

Behind The Warehouse Doors: A Look into the Treatment of Wal-Mart Associates Part II

Wal-Mart: An Open Door to a Closed Mind

Closing the Revolving Door: An Unbiased Eye on Legalizing Prostitution

Supporting Video


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