The previous in this series of reports on Wallingford, Connecticut’s Wal-Mart retail store revealed that the Wallingford Health Department Director had compelled Store Manager Doug Yeakey to finally and only reluctantly bring in a regional corporate cleaning crew to sanitize the public restrooms at his store. We observed that Mr. Yeakey’s name had been removed from the Store’s recently installed sign at the “Service” Desk with the Store Manager’s name and phone number. When a member of the management team with compassion was approached about a matter, he indicated lack of awareness as to Yeakey’s name having been removed, but saw that it had been when it was pointed out to him, and this manager certainly was gleeful to see this. He informed me that Yeakey had taken an unannounced vacation that very day and had been taking frequent unannounced vacations since this series of reports and complaints to Wal-Mart Corporate headquarters, and our reports began appearing on Wal-Mart CEO Rob Walton’s Forbes.com biography (Walton is on Forbes’ top 10 list of Forbes’ Wealthiest Billionaires), and this member of the management ‘team’ appeared delighted at this as well. He said that Yeakey had run out of vacation time and that his vacations were uncompensated at this point. His name has since returned to the front “Service” Desk.
Yeakey’s difficulties with Wal-Mart corporate headquarters would be understandable, given these published articles, published photos of unsanitary and unhealthful conditions at his store, his refusal to deal with the unsanitary conditions only under Health Department orders, his willingness to tolerate intimidation of a customer in a physical manner by his co-manager “Larry” and other employees, and his absurd quotes and final agreement to answer questions in violation of corporate policy without corporate approval.
Tonight an employee named Aaron (spelling uncertain) was pushing way too many carts in the parking lot with his cart-pushing machine, and cut this Examiner off with his load of carts, compelling me to slam my brakes to avert a collision, and I was traveling at approximately 3mph when he speeded up to cut off my van. He looked at me grinning from ear to ear and laughed at me as he did so. I shouted out at him requesting his name and he refuesed. He pushed his carts into the store and disappeared within. I returned, and described the offending employee to a very nice and competent employee who was greeting at the front doors, and she identified the offender, saying “Oh my. That’s terrible,” and she was very careful to direct me to the manager at the front of the store.
Jody is a member of that Management team who I and others have had difficult interactions with before. Defensiveness and unwillingness to take customer complaints seriously is the hallmark of my observations of her performance and that of other employees who work with and for her and when I approached, she was arguing with two customers, a young couple seeking to offer a criticism of another Wal-Mart employee. She yelled at them and intimidated them, shouting that the employee was “on vacation in Hawaii last week, he wasn’t even here!!!” and hollering at the poor couple. The couple left sadly and dejectedly, choosing not to argue back. I offered my complaint about Aaron, and her rudeness continued so I asked if she had a supervisor on the shift and she walked away refusing to get her supervisor. I walked over to the service desk, and she picked up the phone now and decided to call the shift manager at this point, and I sat down on a bench. She yelled at me denying that she had refused to get the manager or walked away, and I had to request that she not speak with me, that I’d address my concerns with her supervisor at this point and she left.
The shift manager (it was about 10pm) took my complaints in a friendly manner, now regarding both Aaron and Jody. I discussed my prior complaints and my series of articles, and explained Wal-Mart corporate management to him including the role of Wal-Mart CEO S. Robson Walton, who moved in as CEO within 48 hours of Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton’s (Rob Walton’s father) death in 1992 and his greedy marketing strategies. The manager was responsive, cordial and interested. He took my business card and I’m certain he’ll be reading this and other articles here and elsewhere I’ve published on this matter. “Larry” the co-manager of the store who has been problematic and attempted to physically intimidate me along with other employees by calling me in to a warehouse office a month or more ago, I observed walking around the front of the store, back and forth around the registers as I sat and awaited the shift manager. I noted that Larry appeared unkempt, unshaven, wearing his Wal-Mart colors, but no name-tag or Wal-Mart badge. I asked the shift manager if Larry had been demoted or if he was still the co-manager, since I was talking with him instead of Larry. The shift manager said Larry was still co-manager, and said Larry wasn’t working. He was very surprised to learn that Larry was even there, let alone prowling the registers.
As I left I spoke with an employee who is a wonderful young college student studying to be an elementary educator, and who verified that Larry was off duty and had been concerned about his presence. She also spoke of her concerns about management at Wallingford Wal-Mart. She’s concerned about the cleanliness, verifying that the Women’s rooms are also frequently unsanitary and that many employees find this situation unacceptable. She was delighted to learn of our intervention with the Health Director and of the necessity of the store to bring in a cleaning crew. She also spoke of a situation of great concern to her. She apparently had complained to store management about a security concern, a customer posed an ongoing threat to her and she apparently wished the store to take action (such as accompanying her to her car or monitoring her safety). Management’s only response to this wonderful future teacher has been that it is just up to her to get a restraining order against the customer and she was basically otherwise just out of luck as far as getting support from her management for her safety and welfare. This, of course, constitutes sexual harassment of the most extreme type, inhumanity and a total lack of compassion for Wal-Mart employees. Not surprising given their history of such lack of concern for employees, customers, communities and of the world as a whole.
A final note: at last check, four of these articles in this series are now incorporated into the biography page of billionaire Wal-Mart Chief Executive Officer S. Robson Walton. Hi Rob. Have a nice weekend!