Wal-Mart boosts pay for 1,813 workers in Hamilton County today

Wal-Mart boosts pay for 1,813 workers in Hamilton County today

March 9th, 2016 by Dave Flessner in Business Around the Region

Walmart associate Jessica Harris rings up groceries for Lynn Kirk during the grand opening of the Walmart Neighborhood Market off of East Brainerd Road in Chattanooga, Tenn., on September 9, 2015.

Photo by Dan Henry /Times Free Press.

Gallery: Wal-Mart announces nationwide pay raise; every employee to make at least $10 an hour

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Here’s how it works

› All associates hired before Jan. 1, 2016, will earn at least $10/hour.

› New entry-level associates hired after Jan. 1 will continue to start at $9/hour and will move to at least $10/hour after successfully completing the company’s new retail skills and training program known as Pathways.

› Associates already earning more than $10/hour will see their annual pay increase starting in March rather than waiting until their anniversary date.

› Wal-Mart is raising the starting rate of its non-entry level hourly pay bands. Anyone earning below the new minimum will automatically move up to the new minimum.

› Associates at or above their pay band maximum will receive a one-time lump sum payment equal to 2 percent of their annual pay.

Source: Wal-Mart

Wal-Mart in Tennessee

· Operates 148 retail units.

· Spent $5 billion with local suppliers, supporting more than 39,300 supplier jobs in FY15.

· Paid more than $80.7 million in taxes and collected more than $696.7 million in sales taxes in FY15.

Source: Wal-Mart

Details of Wal-Mart’s new paid time off program:

• No waiting. Paid time off is available to use as soon as it’s earned and can be used for almost any reason.

• Full-time hourly associates can carry over up to 80 hours (48 hours for part time) of PTO from year to year.

• Any unused hours at the end of the year above the 80-hour and 48-hour limits will automatically be paid to hourly associates in the first paycheck every February.

• Associates will also keep any existing and accrued sick and personal time. These balances will be kept separate, to be used for certain circumstances once all available PTO is used.

Source: Wal-Mart

Fatter paychecks came today for more than 1,800 Wal-Mart sales associates in Hamilton County — and about 1.2 million Wal-Mart and Sam's Club workers around the country — as part of what the retail giant calls "the largest single-day, private-sector pay increase ever."

Wal-Mart, which has the most employees of any U.S. company, has increased its minimum wage to at least $10 an hour.

"This is going to be a good thing, and it's moving in the right direction," said Raymond Daigneault, assistant manager of the Wal-Mart Neighborhood Market in East Brainerd. "The boost in morale around the store is clear to see."

Wal-Mart says its average full-time hourly wage is now $13.38 an hour, and its average part-time wage is $10.58 an hour.

The raises that show up in today's paychecks are the second step of a two-part increase announced last year. It will cost Wal-Mart $2.7 billion over two years in higher wages, training and additional benefits, the company says.

The hikes come after Wal-Mart has been criticized for not paying its workers enough, including in speeches by Democratic presidential contender Bernie Sanders. The pay hike also will make Wal-Mart more attractive to employees in a labor market that has tightened, since unemployment in Chattanooga is now at an eight-year low.

A University of Tennessee at Chattanooga economics professor expects Wal-Mart's customers will foot the bill.

"Wal-Mart has been under substantial pressure to [give raises]," UTC Economist Bruce Hutchison said. "I don't think that type of pressure, from particularly the political sectors, is desirable. Politicians should stay out of individual business decisions as to how much they pay and to whom they pay it — as long as they don't discriminate."

The raises don't go far enough, said the spokeswoman for a union-backed campaign that targeted Wal-Mart's pay and benefits.

"Wal-Mart has been under a lot of pressure from us and many others over the past decade about the way they treat their workers," said Jess Levin, spokeswoman for Making Change at Wal-Mart, a campaign of The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union. "We don't think it's enough."

Wal-Mart and Sam's Club also have launched a new, simplified, paid time off policy that puts paid vacation, sick time, personal time and holiday time into one category.

Wal-Mart also provides a new, short-term disability "basic" plan at no cost to full-time hourly associates that the company says "offers more financial protection to workers who need to be away from work for an extended period of time due to their own medical needs such as an illness, injury or having a baby."

The basic plan will pay 50 percent of a worker's average weekly wage, up to $200, for up to 26 weeks. Wal-Mart also offers a short-term disability "enhanced" plan that costs less than the company's prior voluntary plan and provides associates up to 60 percent of their average weekly wage with no weekly maximum for up to 26 weeks.

Contact staff writer Tim Omarzu at tomarzu@timesfreepress.com or www.facebook.com/Meets ForBusiness or twitter.com/meetforbusiness or 423-757-6651.