A Sam’s Club Employee Speaks Out!

Jamie De Silva is 59 year old and has been working at Sam Club in Vestal, NY for over eight years. Sam’s Club is a membership big box store owned by the Walton family which also owns Walmart.  Walmart is the largest private employer in the US.  In a July interview Jamie described the employee working conditions.

Jamie De Silva: “I am doing this interview because there are so many of us that are employed by the multi billionaires in the Walton family.  Things have to change, especially for young people with families.”

Pay: We begin at nearly the minimum wage and increases come very slowly. Raises hardly keep up with the cost of living increases. We get an end of year bonus that amounts to nearly nothing. A couple of hundred dollars and a big piece of that goes to taxes.

Working Conditions: Employees are on their feet all day.  The floor is concrete and many employees have to go under the knife to repair problems with their knees, ankles, back and feet. It is very tiring and often painful for us.  Some jobs are dangerous.  Those that have to push the carts in the parking lot area are often threatened by drivers coming through the area.

Feed the Machine: The workforce is being cut very thin so there is more work to do for those who are left. Some of the workers were eliminated when the meat and other departments were consolidated with other departments.  Worker morale is very low.  Results from a recent company questionnaire shows that the morale of the workers has dropped even lower.

As employees we are always working under the gun.  Cashiers are pushed hard to get members to upgrade their membership. The cashiers are graded on this. “We are always trying to feed the machine—the CEO’s and the stock holders.”

Need for Full-Time Jobs: Most of the employees are part time. There is very little chance to move from part-time to full-time. Those that are full time, 40 hours a week, are warned over and over that they must get their work done without overtime. Not even one half hour is acceptable. Paying time and one-half is a big no-no.  Those of us working part-time do not get the benefits we and our families need. For those that do get health care benefits, the cost for workers is once again increasing.

Schedule: Many of us face weekly changes in our work schedule. The days and times are not the same from one week to another. It is hard for those with families and young children.

Comparison: I see where Wegman’s grocery store is voted every year as one of the best companies to work for. Wal-Mart wouldn’t come in, in the top 200’s or 300’s.

Feeling of Co-Workers—No Union:  Morale is very low, but I do not think there will be a union. What we associates need is a real say in the operation of the company. The back bone of the company is the workers but the workers have no say. A long time ago the founder, Sam Walton said that the best ideas come from the employees. That belief doesn’t mean anything now. We have a suggestion box but most of the associates suggestions go somewhere on a treadmill.

The Future: At this point in my life I would be happy to see better pay and working conditions for young people and their families. I have faith. I believe that you reap what you sow. Unless the company changes it is going to be like the Titanic. There has been a lot of reaping by the company but little sowing.  There is hope that employees can bring about change.  Employees have asked for changes but so far nothing has happened.

Jamie’s name has been changed because “as bad as it is, I need to work.”

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