Wal-Mart Moves to Demand-Based Scheduling

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Wal-Mart is moving from a traditional employee scheduling program to one based on the projected traffic in the store.

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is moving workers to a new advanced scheduling system, building on a pilot program it tested last year that schedules hourly employees based on the number of shoppers in a store.

The usual suspects are lining up to denounce this.

"You are saying to workers who are already getting paid poorly … if you want any hours, you have to agree to work when we want you to work and to agree to a schedule that changes," said Chris Kofinis, spokesman for WakeUpWalMart.com, which has pressured Wal-Mart to improve pay and benefits.

Ah, yes, the good ol' days, I recall them well. "You'll work Monday through Thursday, Noon to 9," my boss would say. "Nothing doing," said I. "It's Monday and Wednesday Noon to five, and maybe Friday morning if my softball team loses Thursday night and I don't drink too much. Take it or leave it."

But, silliness of the WUW quote aside, I'd venture a guess that such measures are not just part of Wal-Mart looking to cut costs now, but preparing for a future where it's not so hard for states to pass labor laws so restricted in scope as to apply only to Wal-Mart.

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Ah, the conflict between positive worker rights and positive consumer rights finally gets some good press!

To me, this is interesting for only one reason: the result is extremely democratic -- consumer votes dominate employee votes -- yet most political processes in our democracy have yielded quite opposite ("pro-worker" & "anti-consumer") results.

We have a plethora of rules in place to protect powerless workers from evil employers. Wal-Mart and other retail firms have decided to shift more of the blame to consumers using a simple rule: after meeting basic functional store needs, let the will of the consumers decide.

Will workers now clamor for protection from consumers??? Perhaps auditing and regulating computer scheduling algorithms?

Will it now be hard for a manager to override the computer system defaults to give priority to the up-and-coming super-fast-and-accurate shelf stocker over the lazy-ass whiner?

See also, Fark's usual WM flamewar.

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This page contains a single entry by published on January 3, 2007 2:58 PM.

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