Petition targets staffing, hours cuts at Wal-Mart

The petition comes after the workers say the retail giant decreased the hours of some store employees significantly in the wake of the holiday shopping season.

“For some, (the loss of hours) was pretty high,” said Jon Weissman, a coordinator with Western Mass Jobs With Justice, which is organizing the event. The workers are expected to deliver the petition at 1:30 p.m. It reads in part that a post-holiday reduction in staffing and hours “is causing undue financial difficulties and hardships for associates. This policy change, made without any warning, is especially unconscionable, considering the work we put in over the holiday season.”

A Wal-Mart spokesman on Tuesday defended the company’s staffing arrangements, saying that store managers staff stores according to the needs of customers.

“Anyone who knows anything about retail knows December is the busiest time of the year — that’s why we hire seasonal folks, to meet that demand,” said Kory Lundberg from the company’s headquarters in Arkansas.

The petition requests that Wal-Mart return staffing levels to those of preceding months or to levels requested by employees.

“Our average hours with associates are in line with where they were last year at this time,” Lundberg said. “There’s virtually no change.”

Weissman said the petitioners and Western Mass Jobs with Justice are also concerned with the possibility that Wal-Mart may call in a Hadley police officer during the event as was the case in November when a Black Friday demonstration demanding higher wages and better labor conditions was held there. “We’ve reassured them that there’s no need for this,” Weissman said Tuesday.

Dan Crowley can be reached at dcrowley@gazettenet.com.

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