WBEZ | wages and hours http://www.wbez.org/tags/wages-and-hours Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Wal-Mart's goal: reinvention http://www.wbez.org/programs/marketplace/2015-09-02/wal-marts-goal-reinvention-112811 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/walmart_1.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Customers don&rsquo;t like waiting, and the country&#39;s largest retailer knows it.</p><p>Notes Charles Fishman, author &quot;<a href="http://www.amazon.com/The-Wal-Mart-Effect-Works-Transforming/dp/0143038788" target="_blank">The Wal-Mart Effect: How the World&#39;s Most Powerful Company Really Works</a>,&quot; &ldquo;The number one complaint people have about Wal-Mart is it takes too long to give you my money.&rdquo;</p><p>The problem, says Fishman, has a simple fix &mdash; more workers at the check out line. But increasing the hours for workers who&rsquo;ve just been given raises can create another problem altogether.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s more expensive to pay people more,&quot; he says. &quot;At least at the start.&rdquo;</p><p>Wal-Mart has a plan in place: to spend an additional $1 billion a year on wages. But &quot;we are going to be controlling costs, that&rsquo;s what we do at Wal-Mart,&quot; says Kory Lundberg, a company spokesman. And that includes trimming worker&rsquo;s hours at what Lunderberg says is a small number of stores using staff significantly above the hours budgeted to them.</p><p>The country&#39;s largest retailer&nbsp;is trying to reinvent itself, says Enrico Moretti, a professor of economics at the University of California, Berkeley.&nbsp;&ldquo;From a low margin, low profit, very cheap store, to one where customer experience is better.&rdquo;</p><p>But that costs money.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&mdash;<a href="http://www.marketplace.org/topics/economy/wal-marts-goal-reinvention" target="_blank"> <em>Marketplace</em></a></p></p> Wed, 02 Sep 2015 15:06:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/marketplace/2015-09-02/wal-marts-goal-reinvention-112811 Laid off workers sue Wal-Mart contractors http://www.wbez.org/story/laid-workers-sue-wal-mart-contractors-96039 <p><p><img alt="Leticia Rodríguez, one of the plaintiffs." class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/insert-image/2012-February/2012-02-01/Rodriguez1.JPG" style="margin: 9px 18px 6px 1px; float: left; width: 239px; height: 291px;" title="Leticia Rodríguez, one of the plaintiffs, blames the Arkansas retailer. (WBEZ/Chip Mitchell)">Low-wage workers are trying something new to improve conditions in warehouses that sprawl across suburban Will County. A class-action lawsuit claims two contractors at a massive Wal-Mart Stores distribution center in Elwood violated a federal law requiring most companies with 100 or more employees to provide 60 days’ notice of a mass layoff.</p><p>The suit, filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, claims a logistics firm and staffing agency violated the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act by failing to provide the notice before laying off about 65 workers in the warehouse December 29.</p><p>On paper, the plaintiffs were employees of a staffing agency, Florida-based Eclipse Advantage, that was brought in by Wisconsin-based Schneider Logistics, a company that runs the warehouse. Wal-Mart owns the facility, hired Schneider and owns the goods the workers unloaded, but the suit does not name the Arkansas-based retailer as a defendant.</p><p>It’s not uncommon in the retail industry for companies to shed workers as the holiday season winds down. Wednesday’s claim, nevertheless, says the layoff came in retaliation for a November suit alleging wage and hour violations at the warehouse. That case’s defendants are Schneider, Eclipse and another staffing agency, Mid-West Temp Group, based in southwest suburban New Lenox.</p><p>Dizzying as the warehouse’s labor arrangements may be, plaintiffs in Wednesday’s suit say just one company is ultimately responsible.</p><p>"Wal-Mart hires third parties or agencies because they’re always trying to save money to see how they can get the job done with less costs,” said Leticia Rodríguez, 36, who worked in the warehouse for five years through staffing firms. “We as employees pay the price because we’re forced to work under conditions like this — [for less than] minimum wage sometimes — because we need to make ends meet.”</p><p>In response to the plaintiffs, Wal-Mart spokesman Greg Rossiter read a prepared statement: “We hold all of our vendors to high standards, and our expectation is they comply with all applicable laws. Our vendors, such as Schneider, may take whatever corrective actions may be necessary.”</p><p>Rossiter declined to say how Wal-Mart holds venders like Schneider accountable.</p><p>Schneider, for its part, didn’t return calls and messages about the suit.</p><p>Kristina Sanders, human resources manager of Eclipse, declined to answer questions. She read a prepared statement that said her company “has and will continue to pay its employees in compliance with all applicable laws at competitive rates.” She said any allegations of unlawful pay or practices were “unfounded” and would be “defended vigorously.”</p><p>The suit claims the plaintiffs were “jointly employed” by Eclipse and Schneider because, among other reasons, both companies directed the work.</p><p>“First thing in the morning, Schneider requires all the employees in this section of the warehouse to line up and start doing stretches to avoid workplace injuries,” said Christopher Williams, the plaintiffs’ attorney. “So the Schneider employees are standing next to the Eclipse employees, [who] are standing next to the Mid-West employees. And they are all doing these stretches together under the supervision and control of Schneider.”</p><p>It’s unusual to sue a staffing agency based on the WARN Act, designed to provide workers time to adjust to layoffs, get training to compete in the job market, and find other employment.</p><p>The November suit, in contrast, is part of a wave of litigation targeting “wage theft,” in which employers allegedly flout the minimum wage, shortchange workers on overtime or force them to work off the clock.</p></p> Thu, 02 Feb 2012 02:22:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/laid-workers-sue-wal-mart-contractors-96039 Wage-theft law takes effect without many teeth http://www.wbez.org/story/administrative-judges/wage-theft-law-takes-effect-without-many-teeth <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//Shannon2.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>An Illinois law that&rsquo;s billed as a <a href="http://www.iljustpayforall.org/">crackdown on wage theft</a> takes effect Saturday. But, for now, Gov. Pat Quinn&rsquo;s administration won&rsquo;t be delivering the tough enforcement he promised.<br /><br />The law hikes fines for a range of wage-and-hour violations. It makes it a felony for an employer to steal wages twice in two years. And it enables the Illinois Department of Labor to adjudicate small claims without referring them to prosecutors.<br /><br />More than five months since Quinn signed the law, however, his administration hasn&rsquo;t finished writing enforcement rules. IDOL Director Catherine Shannon said those rules won&rsquo;t take effect for at least four more months. &ldquo;Passing laws is really easy,&rdquo; she said, &ldquo;but implementing laws is not always as easy as it looks.&rdquo;<br /><br />To handle wage-theft claims, the department is also counting on more investigators and administrative judges. &ldquo;When we start collecting these penalties, we&rsquo;re going to have additional resources,&rdquo; Shannon said.<br /><br />Meantime, Shannon says she&rsquo;ll decide next week whether to file &ldquo;emergency&rdquo; rules that would enable the department to order fines for small claims when the employer blows off the hearing.</p></p> Fri, 31 Dec 2010 20:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/administrative-judges/wage-theft-law-takes-effect-without-many-teeth