Jobseekers in Oakland aren't paying much attention to the likes of Rev. Michael Pfleger who's suggested that the Biggest Box offers slave jobs
For all the criticism that Wal-Mart receives for its low wages and minimal health benefits, the retail giant says more than 11,000 people in the Bay Area are clamoring to get a job at its new Oakland store.
The country's largest employer plans to welcome customers into its 148, 000-square-foot store on Edgewater Drive next Wednesday, and it says it already has filled 350 of its 400 openings.
Wal-Mart has accepted more than 11,000 applications from Bay Area job seekers, marking the largest volume of interest it has received at any of its Northern California stores, said Wal-Mart spokeswoman Cynthia Lin.
No surprise that union folks aren't pleased about this:
"Wal-Mart is one of the largest employers in the world -- they have to be a model for the society they are promoting," said Wendell Chin, coalition director for the Central Labor Council of Alameda County. "If they don't provide a decent lifestyle, it's scary."
Chin said jobs at Wal-Mart are a dead-end cycle that keeps people in poverty.
Melvin Brown disagrees:
"I think this is a good place to work," said Brown, 52, who dropped off his application on Tuesday for an overnight maintenance position. "It seems like everybody gets along well with everybody."
Brown has been looking for a job for six months. He said he could live with the wages that Wal-Mart is offering.
"It's best to accept what you can get," he said. "You start low and aim high. First you gotta get your foot in the door."
Some others who aren't too worried about Chin's "dead-end cycle":
"I needed a job ASAP, and they had their doors open," said Virginia Ford, 19, of Oakland, who had applied for 25 jobs in three months before she landed one as a cashier at Wal-Mart in Oakland on Tuesday.
Yolanda Williams, 48, of Oakland, started her job at the store five weeks ago, helping to set it up. On Tuesday, she was setting up the lingerie department, which she heads as a manager.
Williams previously worked as a senior computer operator for the city of Oakland and a cook at the city's jail before it closed. She said she is happy to be working for Wal-Mart.
"I felt I was lucky because I've never been a manager in retail," she said.
Lisa Jackson, 34, a Wal-Mart employee for nine years, working as a cashier, truck unloader and overnight stock clerk, is now a manager of the electronics department at the new Oakland store.
"I love my job," Jackson said. "I like the people, and I love what I do."
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