Walmart employees foresee raise

Walmart has finally responded to the pleas to increase minimum wage for their employees. Leaders announced that by January 2016, starting pay will increase to $10 per hour.

“An associate’s work is valuable. Walmart is making meaningful changes to its pay structure and will raise its current U.S. associates’ wages to $10 an hour or higher by early next year,” according to Walmart’s corporate factsheet.

More immediately, as of April 2015, Walmart will increase its starting pay rate to $9 per hour or higher in all markets and plans to move associates below that level to $9 an hour.

This new development will enact huge changes on employees of the company nationwide.

For the state of Arkansas as of 2014, the average minimum wage was $6.25 an hour. Current Walmart employee and John Brown University junior Alex Johnson said this increased minimum wage greatly benefits her as an employee at the Walmart Neighborhood Market in Centerton, Ark. Working for the company since June 2014, Johnson said that this is her first employment outside of college work-study jobs, and she is excited about the pay increase.

“The change is happening quicker than we expected,” Johnson said. “They called all of us for a meeting and confirmed the raised wages.”

Johnson views the pay raise as a benefit to the company as a whole.

“This will cause younger generations to flock and increase the company’s size and will make Walmart an even more efficient and successful company than it is now,” she said. “I know single mothers that work with me and this change will greatly help them out.”

Johnson struggles with an anxiety disorder. She said her overall experience at Walmart has benefitted her beyond her financial needs and helped her combat her anxiety.

“Sometimes you have to deal with people who are upset, but it has been good practice,” Johnson said. “The constant talking to people as a cashier was a huge struggle at first, but I have gotten better at it over time. It has been a great chance to talk to a different variety of people, and I’ve enjoyed that.”

Senior business administration major Jeremy Aldrich worked for Walmart from November 2013 to December 2014 and said he believes this pay increase is overdue.

“There is a lot of value in this change for those invested in the company,” he said. “The good thing is that it is the corporate hearing the cries of the employees that usually feel neglected and unimportant and that is commendable.”

Aldrich said the change took a while to take effect because of the cost.

“I was an overnight employee and got one dollar extra in that position. This was considered a level two pay grade. I was promoted to a support manager position and I received a raise as well as the manager raise, to a level seven,” Aldrich said. He said the raise made a difference in his work morale as well as in pay.

“My bottom line opinion is that it is a good move, because Sam founded Walmart on customer service and appreciation,” Aldrich said. “He said ‘a company’s best assets it their employees,’ ” Aldrich said of Sam Walton.

The company factsheet states: “An associate can grow a career at Walmart. The company is piloting an onboarding and training program that will create clear career paths for associates so they know what is expected of them in order to move from entry level positions to jobs with more responsibility that pay $15 an hour or more.”

Some concerns voiced by reporters for the New York Times and CNN question whether the raise will affect customer loyalty or greatly increase Walmart’s prices. In addition, there is a fear that people could take advantage of the pay increase.

“I feel like Walmart could cut the less efficient employees if they are paying more to the efficient employees. It would be more cost productive,” Johnson said. “I don’t think prices will increase too much.”

Aldrich thinks the raise will affect people on individual levels.

“It is person to person. The saddest part about the system is, because of the model, it can’t allow for those good people stuck at the bottom to save up enough to get out of the financial rut,” Aldrich said of current wages.

Aldrich believes the price increase will be almost unnoticeable because customer loyalty relies on low prices.

“Walmart is taking a huge risk, but they are showing they appreciate the work we do for them,” Johnson concluded.