Wal-Mart Stores Inc. said Wednesday that more than 1.2 million of its full-time Walmart and Sam’s Club retail workers will be making an average hourly wage of $13.38 by February. The announcement, part of a two-phase pay hike that began last year, comes a week after the world’s largest retailer said it would shutter 154 stores in the U.S. and lay off up to 10,000 people.
“We are committed to investing in our associates and to continuing to simplify our business,” Judith McKenna, chief operating officer for Walmart U.S., said in a statement. The company also announced a simplified paid-time-off policy, which includes allowing workers to carry up to 80 hours (48 hours for part-timers) of paid time off from year to year.
A retail giant that has built its model on offering an enormous inventory of products at rock-bottom prices, the company has said profits growth would slow by as much as 12 percent in the current fiscal year on rising workers’ wages and an effort to revamp its digital and brick-and-mortar businesses.
But critics have accused the retailer and other employers in the service sector of paying workers so little they require public assistance to make ends meet while the company reaps billions in annual profits. Members of the founding Walton family own about half of the company’s shares. Wal-Mart made $16.2 billion in profit on $482.23 billion in revenue in its last fiscal year, according to a regulatory filing.
But as more states and cities have begun to increase their wage floors, Wal-Mart and other retailers began raising their pay scales.
The company said all employees hired before Jan. 1 will earn at least $10 an hour and those earning more than that will get their annual pay increases next month rather than on their first-year work anniversaries. The average part-time hourly wage employee – defined as anyone working for the company at less than 34 hours a week – will earn an average of $10.58 an hour.
The Bentonville, Arkansas, retail giant employs about 1.4 million workers in the U.S. and 2.2 million worldwide in 2015, including part-timers, according to its recent annual report.
The United Food & Commercial Workers International Union, which has tried without success to organize Wal-Mart workers, said Wal-Mart cut workers' hours after the first phase of the pay hike went into effect in April 2015. Bloomberg confirmed last year that “some” workers’ hours were cut in order to keep “costs in check.”
“They just closed hundreds of stores, destroyed thousands of jobs, and devastated countless small communities, but now they are trying to convince America they’re giving our workers a raise?” the UFCW said in a statement Wednesday.