(2) A worker taking time off to be with her injured, traumatized son was docked eight hours pay, then said:
"Wal-Mart puts you in the position where you are supposed to put your job ahead of your children."
Like others, she worked sick to avoid demerits and lost wages. One time she worked with a strep throat, the infection spread, and she became so dehydrated she passed out and needed hospitalization. Out three days, she was penalized a day's pay.
(3) A senior Wal-Mart employee told NLC about supervisors acting "like bullies who like to intimidate workers."
(4) Another Wal-Mart worker told NLC:
"Wal-Mart's (sick) policy has not changed, and they have not said a word to anyone. No one knows of any change....and everyone continues coming to work, even if they are really sick," including food handlers.
They get demerits but not told how many. Workers accumulating four in six months get verbal or written "coaching." One more means no promotions or upgrading from part-time to full-time status for those working less than a full load.
As a result, one worker said morale is low and "pretty much everyone hates their jobs," but haven't much choice in today's economic climate. Even Wal-Mart instituted staff cuts, making it harder for shoppers to be served. Some of them yell "at us all the time, screaming and cursing at us" for a situation out of their control.
(5) At Wal-Mart, workers needing a day off must request it four weeks in advance, no matter what the emergency.
(6) At the company's Nampa, Idaho supercenter, a worker was fired for having Swine Flu. At first she worked sick, then wasn't able to several days and wasn't paid. Feeling a little better, she came in, but by early evening was so ill she was taken to an emergency room, couldn't work for two days, and was docked more pay plus demerits.
She already had three for taking time off to care for her sick mother and contracting the flu. Disciplinary action follows after six. It's called "Decision Day," or "D-Day" on which employees must write an essay on why they like working at Wal-Mart, why they should keep their job, and how they'll improve their future performance. Based on their comments, they're either retained or fired, but if kept, they're placed on probation for a full year during which firing follows the slightest infraction.
Nampa supercenter employees call it "cleaning out," when workers are fired for any reason - minor infractions, slow traffic, firing full-time staff for cheap part-time ones or temps.
One worker was fired for accumulating flu-related demerits. On November 6, 2009, a Wal-Mart spokesperson told ABC's Good Morning America:
"Wal-Mart will not fire any worker for having Swine Flu."
Workers tell a different story. So does Global Exchange.org, saying the company leads "the race to the bottom" by its unfair labor practices:
-- half of their employees get no health insurance, and those with it pay a large percentage of the cost and receive too little; and