Since the Coronavirus hit, every day seems like Black Friday at Walmart. Our daily grind now includes shoppers emptying the shelves as if the price tags were reduced by 80%.
The past weeks have been incredibly stressful for the Walmart retail crew who put their health and safety on the line for the panic-driven customers.
A Walmart associate said: ‘I have dealt with over-eager crowds in the past, but the current scenario in our store leaves me and my colleagues physically, mentally, and emotionally drained every day.’
Just how chaotic was it? One Worker response:
Shoppers enter with a “must grab all I can” mindset. So, you can just imagine how most of them behave when they hit the aisles.
Customers walk out of here with supplies to last them for weeks, even months, while we must make do with the daily frenzy’s leftovers to buy for our families.
Although Walmart already imposed a purchase limit on essentials, our inventory cannot match the demand of the shoppers.
The Walmart worker went on to say:
‘Fortunately, I am still in good health but I cannot help but worry about getting infected by the coronavirus and unknowingly pass it on to my family, co-workers, or even the customers.
I wish I can stay home but I do not have a choice. Having a job, even if it is low paying is a key to survival these days.
I am also worried about Walmart’s paid leave policy because it leaves a lot to be desired. What if I get infected?
What choice do hourly wagers like me have when we get sick? Stay home with dwindling sources or go to work and risk infecting others?
Since my job falls under the part-time hourly associate classification, I receive less paid time off than my co-workers working full-time.
Before the pandemic, part-time associates like me could get up to 48 hours of paid leave, while full-time workers get up to 80 hours.
That means I will not be able to stretch my paid leave in case I get sick. Exceeding the allowed number of absences can get you fired from Walmart, even if you show a doctor’s medical certificate.’
Walmart response to Coronavirus
When a Walmart employee tested positive for COVID-19, management implemented a new emergency leave policy. Hourly workers will continue to get paid up to two weeks if they are subjected to quarantine and can check their salaries through walmartone paystub portal.
Full- and part-time employees who cannot resume work after that period, may receive additional pay for up to 26 weeks. While those who tested positive for COVID-19 will also be entitled to two weeks’ pay.
The company also waived the worker attendance occurrence policy for workers who opt to stay home till month’s end. However, their pay will be reduced by 50% the next time they will file a sick leave.
Why do I think these policy adjustments still fall short?
With the government exempting large corporations including Walmart from the recently passed emergency coronavirus relief bill, any hopes I had for getting additional paid sick leave when I will need it badly, just got burnt.
Yet again, large corporations managed to acquire more protection than their employees. Greed over employees’ well-being during a pandemic is a bitter pill to swallow.
Last year, Walmart distributed $12 billion among its shareholders with the Walton heirs receiving the bigger portion. Walton’s net worth is currently valued at $190 billion.
One can only wish for a slice of that wealth to be apportioned for the 1.5 Million Walmart employees’ health care and paid sick leave.
I understand that the business world is also reeling from this unprecedented crisis, but a better response to the most urgent needs of workers will help avert the spread of the Coronavirus
Profit first mentality will not save the world from COVID-19’s impact. Instead, it should be seen as an opportune time to focus on the people who kept the companies running before and during the crisis.
I am hoping that the leaders of our government will swiftly act on the implementation of laws shielding the vulnerable daily wage earners from corporate greed.
Walmart employees continue to be dedicated to their customers and company regardless of the struggles and risks we face every day. It would be great if the chief executives will hear and act on our pleas.