NEW YORK — Wal-Mart Stores is banking on on-the-spot surprise promotions of about 25,000 U.S. store employees to help send a message that it offers economic security and opportunity.
The world's largest retailer and the nation's largest private employer will be kicking off the promotions at ceremonies Tuesday in its Secaucus, N.J., store and about 15 other markets including Atlanta and Denver. It will dispatch top executives to stores nationwide for similar events for the rest of its fiscal year, which ends in late January. The mostly hourly workers will be promoted to different jobs — some to store management positions — and will receive higher pay.
"It's good a time as any to tell our story," said Bill Simon, president and CEO of Wal-Mart's U.S. namesake division. He will be in Secaucus on Tuesday at a ceremony to promote six to eight workers.
The move is an addition to Wal-Mart's announcement in September that it would move 35,000 workers from temporary to part-time status and another 35,000 from part time to full time by year-end. The campaign builds on a theme the discounter pushed throughout the year, including at its annual shareholders' meeting in June, in which it cast the company as a place where employees have a chance to advance. It has often highlighted that 75 percent of its store management teams started as hourly associates.
The latest campaign comes as Wal-Mart Stores Inc. remains a target of attacks by critics, particularly union-backed groups that have argued the discounter puts profit ahead of its workers and pays meager wages.