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Thread: Super Walmarts in Urban/Inner City Areas

  1. #26
    Cyburbian dbarch's avatar
    Apr 2002
    Atlanta, GA
    Target is planning a "Super Target" as part of a big-box complex, along with a Publix supermarket and a Lowe's home-improvement store in Atlanta. The site is at an urban edge along a railroad corridor. North of the railroad are several late-19th and early 20th century neighborhoods that have gentrified. South of the railroad is a mix of neighborhoods, mostly minority, which are gentrifying (and changing racial composition) rapidly.
    The site is currently a mix of light industrial and warehouse uses, and I think the retailers want to get in before the land price goes out of sight.
    Some of the gentrified neighbors want to fight the re-zoning, but many of the lower- and middle-class neighbors are desperate for retail that offers choice and doesn't require a car. Should be interesting to see what develops!

  2. #27

    WalMart and Slave Labor

    This is kind of off the subject, but here is an exerpt of something originally printed in the New York Times about Wal Mart forcing people to work for free after they had punched out.

    Wal-Mart accused of labor violations
    Workers claim pressure to work for no pay; firm says cases rare, forbidden
    New York Times
    Last Updated: June 24, 2002
    Kansas City, Mo. - After finishing her 10 p.m. to 8 a.m. shift, Verette Richardson clocked out and was heading to her car when a Wal-Mart manager ordered her to turn around and straighten up the store's apparel department.

    Eager not to get on her boss' bad side, she said, she spent the next hour working unpaid, tidying racks of slacks and blouses and picking up hangers and clothes that had fallen to the floor. Other times after clocking out, she was ordered to round up shopping carts scattered in the parking lot.

    "They wanted us to do a lot of work for no pay," said Richardson, who worked from 1995 to 2000 at a Wal-Mart in southeast Kansas City. "A company that makes billions of dollars doesn't have to do that."

    But according to Richardson and 40 other current and former Wal-Mart workers who were interviewed over the last four months, Wal-Mart has done just that, forcing or pressuring employees to work hours that were not recorded or paid.

    Federal and state laws bar employers from making their hourly employees work unpaid hours. Wal-Mart's internal policies forbid such work as well. But many current and former employees and managers said Wal-Mart's intense focus on cutting costs had created an unofficial policy that encouraged managers to request or require off-the-clock work and to avoid paying overtime.

    Accusations like these are at the heart of a wide-ranging legal battle between Wal-Mart and employees or former employees in 23 states. These lawsuits contend that the company has cheated Wal-Mart employees and workers at its warehouse-store division, Sam's Club, out of hundreds of millions of dollars a year.

    Wal-Mart officials insist that the off-the-clock phenomenon is minimal considering that the company has 3,250 stores and a million employees in the United States. The officials say the company, based in Bentonville, Ark., has a strong policy against such work that is spelled out in the handbook given to every worker.

    "Off-the-clock work is an infrequent and isolated problem, which we correct whenever we become aware of it," said William Wertz, a Wal-Mart spokesman. "It is Wal-Mart's policy to pay its employees properly for the hours they work."

    Wertz said managers who required or requested off-the-clock work were subject to disciplinary action, including dismissal.

    Two years ago, Wal-Mart paid $50 million to settle a class-action lawsuit that asserted that 69,000 current and former Wal-Mart employees in Colorado had worked off the clock.

    But legal papers and interviews with workers suggest that the off-the-clock problems go far beyond Colorado. In depositions and in interviews with The New York Times, Wal-Mart employees described some off-the-clock work:

    Former employees at stores in California, Louisiana, New York, Ohio, Oregon and Washington said that many evenings when their stores closed, managers locked the front door and prevented workers from leaving - even those who had clocked out - until everyone finished straightening the store. Workers said these lock-ins, which aim to prevent theft, forced many employees to work an hour or two unpaid and enraged parents whose school-age children worked at Wal-Mart. Wal-Mart officials acknowledged that employees were sometimes locked in the stores but said the policy was to pay workers for every hour they were locked in.
    Employees at stores in several states said managers ordered them to clock out after their eight-hour shifts and then continue working.
    Some employees said they frequently took it upon themselves to clock out after their regular shift and then return to work, with their managers' knowledge and approval. These workers said they feared that if they did not finish their daily tasks before going home, they would be written up or fired.
    A dozen Wal-Mart workers, including four in the payroll department, said managers deleted hours from employee timecards to avoid paying overtime. Wal-Mart officials said the company strictly forbid this practice and disciplined managers who did it.
    Several current Wal-Mart employees said that despite the lawsuits, the problems continue.

    Although company policy prohibits off-the-clock work, Wal-Mart has created a system of rewards and punishments that critics say gives managers strong incentives to demand such work.

    Under one bedrock policy, described in a deposition by a senior payroll executive, store managers are ordered to keep payroll costs below a target that headquarters sets for every store.

    Wal-Mart gives store managers another incentive to squeeze down labor costs by pegging their annual bonuses to the profits of their individual stores, a system rare among major retailers.

    Wal-Mart officials played down the extent of unpaid work by saying that employees often came forward to complain only after calling toll-free numbers that lawyers had established.

    But lawyers and union officials say that not only is the practice prevalent at Wal-Mart, but that the complaints against it are greater than at competitors.

    To defend against such accusations, Wal-Mart officials have put forward dozens of employees who said they had never done off-the-clock work or been asked to do it.

    Julie Rice, sales coordinator at a Sam's Club in Ohio, said in a deposition that she had been compensated for "every minute of work" she had done for Wal-Mart. Dianne Huston, a cashier in Ohio, testified that she was never asked to work off the clock and that she was "not allowed to do anything off the clock."

    Retailing analysts, lawyers and Wal-Mart officials say it is hard to estimate the potential liability the company could face in all these cases. Wal-Mart's defenders estimate liability could run several million dollars, while plaintiffs' lawyers say the cost could reach several billion.

    The official policy that Wal-Mart provides its store managers is clear: "It is a violation of the law and Company policy to work off the clock or for a Supervisor or Manager to request Associates work off the clock."

    But eight former managers said headquarters set payroll and staffing levels so low it was nearly impossible to run stores properly unless some worked more than 40 hours a week.

    Appeared in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on June 25, 2002.
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