The move won't affect the 1.4 million current U.S. employees of the world's largest retailer, only those hired after Jan. 1, spokesman Greg Rossiter told Bloomberg. The change will take effect at Walmart stores, Sam's Club outlets and warehouses.
During the past six quarters, Bentonville, Ark.-based Walmart has been suffering from a decline in same-store sales (for stores open at least a year) in the U.S., while expenses have been rising. CEO Mike Duke, who stands to make $19.2 million in total compensation in 2010 according to Forbes, has pledged to slow cost growth. One way is by trimming the discount retailer's biggest expense -- labor.
Better or not, as the U.S.'s largest private employer, the move is going to affect many hourly workers. Walmart has been accused in the past of creating conditions that encourage high employee turnover, thus keeping wages low. Also, more than anything, the move highlights the continued shift of power to employers as workers, afraid of finding themselves among the ranks of the unemployed, quietly accept wage cuts or changes that worsen their working conditions.