Wal-Mart continues to toot its own horn about the opportunities for promotion from within its ranks. On Tuesday (Oct. 29) the retailer announced it would promote 25,000 workers to jobs with higher pay and more responsibility during its forth quarter, for a total of 160,000 promotions accomplished this fiscal year.
Critics of Wal-Mart said the move is a response to claims that the retailer has cut hours for full time workers and has a large number of employees who make less than $25,000 a year.
Bill Simon, CEO of Walmart U.S, said earlier this year that Wal-Mart has its own story to tell and it will do so. Wal-Mart executives are traveling throughout the country Tuesday to make the announcements in person.
“Our success from day one is a direct result of our associates and the hard work they do in taking care of our customers. We are proud to provide our people with additional employment opportunities and greater economic security for their families,” Simon said in a statement.
Between any given time there are between 15,000 and 50,000 job openings at Wal-Mart. Sherry Curtis-Swenson, store manager at the supercenter in Jane, Mo., started as an hourly cashier 20 years ago. Curtis-Swenson told The City Wire this past summer that one of her favorite aspects in the demanding job is promoting her employees.
“I can’t imagine doing anything else. I love working with people. Just recently I was able to promote a stocker into an assistant manager position and know firsthand how this would change his life,” Curtis-Swenson said.
Today’s promotions are in addition to Wal-Mart’s announcement in September to move 35,000 associates from temporary to part time and another 35,000 associates from part time to full time by the end of the year.
Also this year, as part of an effort to give greater flexibility to employees, Wal-Mart is providing associates with access to open shifts, giving them the opportunity to pick up extra hours that fit with their personal schedules. The company is also providing priority status for existing employees to fill open positions.
“There is opportunity for everyone at Wal-Mart. All you have to do is get your foot in the door,” said Claudine McKenzie, store manager in Lauderdale Lakes, Fla. “I started as a temporary associate 17 years ago and today I run my own store. I understand what this company has to offer people, and that’s why one of the best parts of my job is helping my associates develop and grow their careers.”
The news of Wal-Mart’s promotions spree comes on the heels of a highly publicized firing and subsequent offer to rehire of a store worker in Michigan who tried to help a woman being assaulted in the store parking lot.
Company policy required store managers fire Kristopher Oswald, 30, of Linden, Mich., after he wrestled with a man in the parking lot to break up an assault against a woman. After considering the circumstances, the retailer reversed the decision to fire Oswald. However, Oswald has not yet agreed to return to his former Walmart job.
Organization United for Respect at Walmart, aka OUR Walmart, have staged protests to raise awareness for an effort to boost all full-time employees to a pay of more than $25,000 a year. The union-funded group is also planning Walmart store disruptions on the day after Thanksgiving – one of the busiest days of the holiday shopping cycle.
“Walmart is on the defensive promising promotions for 25,000 Associates,” the group noted Tuesday morning on its Facebook page. “‘Like’ if you can feel we are having an impact and tell us what would it really take to address the problems with how they treat us.”