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Ear to the Ground

Inside Walmart’s Manager Training

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Posted on Dec 14, 2012
Walmart Corporate (CC BY 2.0)

An assistant store manager for Walmart tells in mid-2011 how during an eight-week training course “managers were trained to put ... fear into hourly workers’ heads” and spot employees the company deemed likely to organize.

“I thought we would get a crash course in Walmart history and then get into learning the computer systems, the policies, how to schedule people,” writes the author. “I was far off track. I was now in an eight-week indoctrination into how Walmart is the unsurpassed company to work for, and how to spot any employee who was having doubts. I was supposed to be happy at all times.”

The account offers insight into how language can become suspect in an institution intent on controlling its members. An entire day of training was devoted to “word phrasing.” The use of “unlawful Walmart language” such as “committee,” “organize,” “meeting,” “volunteer” and “group” made employees eligible for warnings or write-ups.

Managers in training were given 15 to 30 minutes a day to read Walmart founder Sam Walton’s book, “Sam Walton: Made in America,” and had to watch anti-union videos.

—Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly.

Labor Notes:

Nothing from that eight weeks of brainwashing was geared to help you do your job as an assistant manager. Essentially it was more of a police academy, training the managers to be police officers for Walmart. We were being trained to put fear into the hourly workers’ heads. Step out of line, and you lose your job.

After graduating (they held a makeshift ceremony), I had no clue what exactly my job was. I had to learn from the other assistant managers in my store how to operate the scanner, how to schedule my departments, and the other operational items that weren’t covered in the training. The only thing I learned was how to fake being happy around customers and my subordinates.

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