Last week Walmart announced it'll raise wages for 40% of its US workforce. But for many employees, low pay isn't the only issue: They also can't get the hours they need to make a decent living, the New York Times reports. Part-time workers complain that when they request more time to pull in much-needed cash, they're often turned down—one California worker tells the Times that one week he'll receive 28 hours, the next 18. Part of this problem arises from Walmart not wanting to overestimate demand and bring in too many workers for a particular shift, which a civil rights advocate takes issue with. "It's about creating an environment where employees are not just at the whim of Walmart," she tells the Times.
Walmart uses high-end software to weigh cost-benefit analyses and spit out an ideal number of employees who should work. "A number of companies have become more focused on keeping a very tight link between variations in consumer demand and the number of staffing hours," an employment expert tells the Times. "It's easier to do that if you have a lot of people who can be scheduled for very short shifts, and who are hungry for hours." But she adds this can make it more difficult to see wage growth. And while some think better hours may emerge down the line, a Clark University industry relations professor thinks the pay raise is a sign that the squeaky wheel is getting the grease: While Walmart's workforce has historically been people supplementing an income, increasingly, "it’s the primary wage earners who work at Walmart, because a lot of workers have given up on getting middle-class jobs. Now these workers are being pushed into Walmart-type jobs, they’re demanding higher wages, full-time jobs, and better benefits."