Earlier reporting here at icedjamb.com/government-in-hartford/stevealexander on sanitary conditions at the Wallingford Wal-Mart has shown brutally unsanitary and unhealthy conditions due to financial considerations on the part of the management of the local store, under the leadership of Store Manager Doug Yeakey. Complaints to Mr. Yeakey regarding conditions in the Men’s rooms and the bottle/can redemption facility and practices at the store went unheeded and, in fact, were not only dismissed out of hand but attempts were made to intimidate this examiner. A complaint was being registered and this reporter was summoned to the warehouse office of the retail establishment, by an assistant manager saying Mr. Yeakey was unavailable. The “Co-Manager” yelled and gesticulated as several large male employees entered the office surrounding us. A female employee came in and turned around her employee identification badge, and when asked why she did so, denied doing so. When asked to turn it back around so I could identify her, this was refused. I was followed by this entourage out of the warehouse area and told to leave. Since I had a cart of merchandise unpaid for as of yet, I informed them that I would pay rather than shoplift if they preferred. This ‘goon-squad’ followed me until I departed the store.
Palm Sunday and two days later conditions in one men’s room included fecal matter, overflowing trash cans and overflowed toilets and photos were taken and published here and elsewhere. Complaints to Yeakey and requests for a conversation were ignored and refused. A complaint was filed with the Wallingford Health Department, under the direction of long-time Republican Mayor William Dickinson. A sanitarian was dispatched but a follow-up call that was promised never happened. When I went to the Health Department to follow up myself that sanitarian reported no problems at that Wal-Mart, while at the same time mentioning her personal fondness for Store Manager Yeakey. Our discussion was most unsatisfactory, so I returned to discuss the matter with the Health Department Director last week (see Friday’s Examiner article). She promised to go out early this week and call me to inform me of her findings. Today, Thursday, no call had come so I called the Health Department this morning. Karen answered the phone and I asked to speak with the Director, Eloise. Karen asked repeatedly why I wanted to speak with her, and I explained that I’d rather discuss it with the Director at this point since she was following up on my complaint. Karen hung up on me when I indicated to her that I chose not to discuss my complaint with her. So this afternoon I went to City Hall once again to visit the Health Department hoping to meet with Director Eloise. At 1pm the Health Department was closed and a sign in the glass reception window saying they would return at 1:45pm. The Health Department is an essential service, and closing altogether for lunch is an unacceptable practice, staggering lunch breaks is highly recommended in the future, regardless of staffing limitations.
With the Health Department closed, I went upstairs to the Mayor’s office and spoke with his assistant, Joan. She received copies of the photos, articles and my complaint regarding the Wal-Mart sanitary conditions and now regarding the Health Department. Joan took all that information in a very cordial and responsive manner and heard my complaint on another matter as well.
I returned to City Hall at 4pm, Eloise met with me, I showed her a photo of the ‘out to lunch’ sign that greeted me at 1pm. She said: “I understand you came earlier.” I looked confused, and she said, “I understand you spoke with the mayor.” I said I had not, that he was not in earlier, and that furthermore, any communications between me and the mayor’s office I would prefer not to discuss with her. She told me that she had gone out to Wal-Mart this afternoon (following my call to her office this morning and my visit to the Mayor’s office) and that she met with Store Manager Yeakey, and saw the filth I had described and that Yeakey had finally agreed to have a corporate cleaning crew come in and sanitize the restrooms. She said nothing of the bottle/can redemption facilities which I’ve also complained about. She also said nothing of the sanitarian on her payroll that was unable to spot this filth when she had gone out to inspect. I expressed to her my concerns that an essential office closing an hour for lunch was poor judgment, and she simply said her staff deserved lunch breaks. I agreed, however indicating to her that it might behoove her to staff the office in such a manner that the office doesn’t have to be closed altogether for lunch and that staffing patterns were her responsibility. She queried a second time regarding my interactions with the Mayor’s office and with the mayor himself, and for a second time I felt compelled to remind her that interactions between myself and the Mayor, or his staff is something that is within my rights to not discuss with her. I explained to her my concern that she had promised action early this week and to call me with the results of her inspection and that Thursday is not early in the week and she offered neither apology nor explanation.
The Health Director indicated that Wal-Mart Store Manager Yeakey was now responsible to report to her when the corporate cleaning crew comes in and that she would inspect again. I asked when that would happen and would she call with the results, and she agreed. I asked when I might expect a follow-up call from her, and she said “Not tomorrow if I don’t hear from Doug tomorrow.” I asked her to please simply give me a time frame. She said “Next week.” I asked if she could contact me early next week and specifically Wednesday or before, and she agreed that she would. I visited the Mayor’s office once again, and at this point the Mayor will either call tomorrow or a meeting between me and Mayor Dickinson will be set tomorrow.
The filthy conditions at Wal-Mart are no accident. S. Robson Walton the Chairman of Wal-Mart’s Board of Directors and one of the primary heirs to founder Sam Walton’s fortune, who moved in as CEO only 2 days after his father died, has pursued a ruthless profit-at-all-cost strategy since taking over in April 1992. Cost cuts at this store are out of control, and a hazard to everyone who visits this store. Employees are abused, their rights stomped on, American manufacturing jobs exported overseas, the quality of products diminished while prices have been increasing, and the quality of life decreasing world-wide thanks to the corporate greed that Rob Walton and management “teams” such as the one led by Doug Yeakey at Wallingford Wal-Mart personify.
I went to that Wal-Mart store today and a very nice member of that management team (there are some who reluctantly remain on board because they have mouths to feed—others have taken demotions and won’t manage for Wal-Mart or for Yeakey any longer) who was happy to hear that I managed to arrange for the Health Department Director to show up today and this individual expressed concern that when the need for cleaning arises, adequate staffing is not available. What a fine individual this person is indeed. J