Susan Berfield, BLOOMBERGBUSINESSWEEK.COM
(BloombergBusinessweek)—Wal-Mart (WMT), the country’s biggest private employer, has been criticized by activists and by its own workers for not paying living wages or providing full-time hours to those who want them. This week, however, all of the company’s senior executives appeared on a stage in Rogers, Ark., for six hours, and no one in the audience of investors and analysts asked much about the company’s 1.3 million U.S. employees.
It was only afterward, when Walmart Chief Executive Office Doug McMillon spoke to reporters, that the issue of pay came up. McMillon said that Wal-Mart “wantMis to be in a situation where we don’t pay minimum wage at all.” That sounds good. But it’s so vague that it’s hard to know if this amounts to a shift or is merely a clever attempt to set the issue aside.
McMillon noted that of Walmart’s U.S. workforce, fewer than 6,000 earn the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour. The company reports an average full-time hourly wage of $12.92, but it doesn’t provide a figure for its many part-timers—30,000 of whom will lose their health benefits next year—in addition to those who already lost them.