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Matt Singer on October 17, 2006 - 8:44am
Nearly 200 Wal-Mart workers apparently spontaneously walked off the job in Florida in response to new rules that even two department managers leading the walkout deemed "inhuman" (two managers organized this action, at least thirteen others joined in it). The action was apparently not organized by union groups or any other outsiders, but by Wal-Mart workers on their shifts and included nearly every worker in the store. Wal-Mart's recent establishment of new policies include cutting full-time workers to part-time, requiring workers to be available for shifts literally any time of the day or night, and even removal of stools for elderly and disabled workers -- apparently as a means of eliminating employees who place too high of health care costs on the company. Guillermo Vasquez, one of the two department managers who orchestrated the action, explained one of the big problems:
In addition, the shifts would be decided not by managers, but by a computer at company headquarters. Employees could find themselves working 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. one week and noon to 9 p.m. the next. "So workers cannot pick up their children after school everyday, and part-timers cannot keep another job because they can be called to work anytime," says Vasquez.Vasquez also told BusinessWeek that there are currently no plans in the works for a union, that workers were "just want[ing] to be heard." A union, of course, would help in that. Regardless, this may be a clear sign to Wal-Mart that their practices really do go too far.