Our newly evolved fast-paced and demanding lifestyles, combined with the ever-growing greed of corporations, has paved the way for retailer workers being exploited by their employers. Unreasonable scheduling, poor pay, minimal-to-no employee benefits are just a few of the problems that the 4.6 million retail workers in the United States have had to endure.
1) Low pay
The average wage for retail workers is $10.29 per hour, according to the 2012 Bureau of Labour Statistic report. Although this figure is above the federal minimum wage, it is still below the minimum living wage for many areas across the US. Areas like Seattle and San Francisco, however, have recognized the importance of change and have both backed the $15 minimum wage; San Francisco is steadily increasing the minimum wage until it reaches $15 in 2018.
2) Part-time scheduling
Many Americans today are forced to work at multiple jobs in order to get by. Part-time employment and scheduling practices are being abused by employers in the retail industry. For retailers, hiring a high percentage of part-time employees is more financially beneficial due to a variety of employee entitlements that they save on, including but not limited to, no health care subsidies and no paid sick days.
3) Anti-organizing practices
Union suppression and anti-organizing practices are commonly practiced by major corporations, often being disingenuous about the possible repercussions of unionization. This problem is particularly severe in “right to work” states, which claim that unions pressure employees to join before ultimately entrapping them in a system which uses their money for their own financial gain and prevents the company from growing.
4) Wage Theft
It has recently been reported that Walmart is facing wage theft charges, depriving part-time employees of work by delegating assistant managers the additional work. The employees are paid on a salaried, and not hourly basis; this means that they do not receive overtime wages for their extra hours, saving the corporation a significant amount on expenses. It is also not unusual for retailers to demand that staff arrive early and leave late for work. Typically, this extra time spent working is unpaid.
5) Unpredictable scheduling
Another of the corporations’ unfair demands are flexible working staff. Employees are expected to work with unstable schedules, many of which are issued week by week, making it nearly impossible for employees to plan ahead. It is also not uncommon for the schedules to be changed only days in advance, and employees are then expected to meet these scheduling demands.
6) Racism and Sexual Harassment
In the news, cases of racism, sexual harassment, transphobia, religious discrimination, among many others are a regular occurrence. Large retailers such as Target, Abercrombie & Fitch, Saks Fifth Avenue are just a few of the many corporations that have been reported for such offences. Yet it’s not just the corporations who subject workers to this kind of abuse, the customers themselves are often equally guilty by being unaware of these problems.
7) Little to No Benefits
For both many part-time and even full-time retail industry employees, work benefits are entirely non-existent on their contracts. Healthcare, paid sick days, vacation time and other benefits are not offered to a large proportion of the U.S retail workforce, leaving employees feeling pressured into going to work every day because of the fear of financial hardship or losing their job security.
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