Walmart raising pay for 165,000 hourly workers

by Paul Gatling ([email protected]) 5,178 views 

Walmart Inc. announced Thursday (Sept. 17) significant changes to employment in its U.S. stores that will mean pay raises for some of its workers.

In a blog post from Walmart U.S. chief operating officer Dacona Smith, the world’s largest retailer outlined a new team-based staffing model for its supercenters. The new structure will result in pay increases for approximately 165,000 hourly employees across all U.S. stores, the company said.

The new system includes new leadership roles in supercenters, both at the salaried and hourly level: store lead (formerly co-manager), coach (formerly assistant manager) and team lead (previously department manager). The retailer says the staffing structure is similar to a system it’s been trying out for the past year at Sam’s Club and Neighborhood Market stores.

The company said all employees would continue working at Walmart if they choose to, even if they are not selected for one of the new roles.

“They will either remain in their current roles or be offered a similar position,” the memo said. “They’ll keep the same pay through at least October 2021.”

The new salaried and hourly team leadership roles will come with higher pay. The retailer will also raise wages for the current salaried digital, asset protection and auto care center assistant manager roles in the store. The new wage ranges for the hourly team lead roles start at between $18 and $21 an hour and can go up to $30 an hour in supercenters, the company said.

“Through this new, tiered structure for team leads, we’re creating room for pay and career growth while investing in areas like pickup and delivery as customers increasingly turn to those options,” the memo said. “Those parts of the business will only continue to grow.”

Workers in the deli and bakery areas will see their minimum hourly wage rise from $11 to $15 or higher, the memo said. Pay is also being raised for several hourly auto care center roles.

“Most associates in these roles will receive a base pay increase of $1 or more per hour,” the memo said. “These specialized roles are an essential part of our business.”

The October pay increases, the memo said, take the place of the annual increase employees typically receive in February or April.

“Likewise, for these select hourly roles, this increase will also take the place of the regular quarterly bonus and become part of their base pay going forward, offering more predictability and more pay in their hourly wages,” the memo said. “These associates will continue to be eligible to receive quarterly bonuses for Q3 and Q4 of this year. When we’ve asked associates, the overwhelming majority say their hourly wages are the most important part of their pay, well ahead of quarterly bonuses.”

Cynthia Murray, a longtime Walmart employee in Maryland and a member of the worker organization United for Respect, issued the following statement in response to the staff changes.

“Walmart associates across the country are only now learning the details of our employer’s new staffing model, but we are already concerned and anxious about what is to come. We are risking our lives to serve Walmart customers during the pandemic and helped generate record profits, and it is unacceptable to me that executives would push new staffing models with zero input from the front line employees.

“Raises for some staff, but not for all, will not cut it. All long-term workers like me deserve to get raises, and every single one of Walmart’s 1.5 million U.S. employees should be making at least $15 an hour. Promises that jobs and pay will be maintained until October 2021 are no relief when we’re already struggling to make ends meet and there’s no certainty that the economy will be in full recovery in a year. And it’s time to move beyond words about racial justice — Walmart must disclose if people of color and women are disproportionately concentrated in typically lower paying part-time positions or are paid less than others at Walmart. If this is true, Walmart’s CEO has a responsibility to fix it. 

“Associates have said loudly and clearly what we need to survive and thrive: living wages, fair treatment of part-time associates, and for the Board to include the independent, hourly workers in decision making as we continue to make our stores safe for associates and the public during the pandemic. This announcement completely ignores our demands on coronavirus protections, our number one concern when we clock-in for shifts. 

“For months, I’ve lived in fear that I could get sick with COVID-19 while at work, while the Waltons’ fortunes have ballooned by billions. Now, I might lose my job and be left without any severance or health care during the pandemic.”