By Brian Gilliland
(Oct. 24, 2014) The recent news of Wal-Mart ending health coverage for part-time employees was dwarfed only by Ebola, ISIS and possibly election coverage in the headlines, but the employees who spoke to Ocean City Today on condition of anonymity either didn’t care, didn’t know or weren’t eligible for benefits in the first place.
Wal-Mart announced on Oct. 7 through its official blog that it would be joining retailers such as Target, Home Depot, Walgreens and Trader Joe’s in reducing benefits to part-time employees who work less than 30 hours per week, which will affect about two percent of their 1.3 million employees.
“They didn’t tell me anything about that,” said Steve R., “what they did tell me was that I was supposed to be in maintenance but as you can see I’m out here pushing carts. I’m going to get Medicare anyway because [Wal-Mart] takes all the chips and gives me none.”
The Berlin store manager referred Ocean City Today its corporate communications office on matters affecting healthcare coverage. He declined to provide a number of employees affected by the change at his store.
Randy Hargrove, an official Wal-Mart Company spokesperson, also declined to provide numbers of affected employees in Berlin, the peninsula or the region.
“We are dealing with our associates on an individual level. We are not releasing the information on an individual basis,” Hargrove said.
That may explain why the employees we spoke to had no idea of any changes.
“I would jump at the chance for benefits,” Louise M. said. “There are lots of hardworking people here that should be taken care of. I don’t understand why they would take from me so you could have a little bit more.”
Mary, an 11-year veteran with the company and the only full-time employee we spoke with is no fan of the changes under the Affordable Care Act, but agrees with some of the sentiments contained within.
“Everyone should have insurance and everyone should have the ability to get insurance. We need more workers anyway, and I don’t understand why [the changes had been made].”
Ralph Z. said he is part time, but his anniversary hasn’t hit yet and doesn’t think he is eligible for benefits.
“From what I’ve been told the benefits aren’t that great anyway, so it doesn’t really affect me,” he said. If offered, he indicated he probably wouldn’t enroll.
Taddy T. is a temporary worker at Wal-Mart and said all new hires are considered temporary for a length of time before they could even be considered for part-time status.
“The company shows us what they think about us in the money. They didn’t tell us of any changes to anything. If it gets to be too bad, I’ll walk. I’ll go over to Ocean City somewhere and get a job there.”