PUBLIX IS NOT FAMILY-FRIENDLY

In Florida, we don’t have much choice when it comes to grocery shopping — Publix is everywhere except small rural towns. Even in larger municipalities, the other grocery store options are pitiful (Winn-Dixie) or specialty stores that force you to shop at multiple places, something most working people with families cannot do. To their credit, Publix stores are clean, well-stocked, have a good variety of merchandise, and their employees are knowledgeable and helpful. It is a one-stop shopping experience. Hard for any other store to beat that. However, as the mother of a Publix “associate,” my opinion of their personnel policies is not as favorable.

My daughter has worked there for seven years, always received glowing reviews, was made full-time in 2012 (very few Publix employees are full-time) and is making a whopping $11.50 an hour. Her schedule is different every day, every week. She is scheduled to work anytime from 6 am to 11 pm, her schedule can be changed by her supervisor without notice, she never has two days off in a row, and if she needs to take the day off (sick, etc), she is supposed to find someone to take her shift. She is a single mother with two children, and there are no schedule accommodations made for family situations like that. Publix does accommodate for an employee’s school schedule, but they don’t give a damn about your kids and their school schedules. They also provide no family leave and do not allow personal sick time to be used when an employee needs to be home with a sick child. Because vacation time is supposed to be requested six weeks in advance, it is also rarely possible to use vacation time for tending to a sick child. So much for being family friendly!

Oddly enough, she is one of the lucky employees at Publix because she is full-time and has benefits. Very few people are raised to full-time status, even after years of employment there.

Work schedules are available on Wednesday for the upcoming Saturday through the following Friday, and because work hours and days are never the same from one week to the next, there is no way to plan in advance for anything. She lives from day-to-day. And, because of that, she and her children have to live with me. I have my own business and many clients, so keeping everything calendered and on time is crucial to my work, and since her schedule changes weekly, I am in limbo waiting for her schedule so I can plan mine. Every employee at her store who is a single parent is forced to live with other family members for help with childcare. Even if single parents could survive on Publix wages, trying to find childcare that starts before 6 am or is available until 11 pm is impossible, not to mention the ever-changing schedule conundrum. Again, there is nothing family-friendly about Publix!

At one time, she wanted to have a career at Publix, especially because of stock options, but it became evident that she would pay a steep price for that stock and ownership in the company. Maybe she could retire younger than average (if the stock continues to do well), but she would give up all of her younger years to do that and would sacrifice being present for her children. As one moves up the ladder and becomes salaried, fifty or more hours a week is the norm. She already has missed many events in the lives of her children, and it was evident she would have to miss more. It is sad, but also infuriating because Publix has a reputation for being so family friendly.

Fortunately, my daughter is now pursuing a career in nursing, but her ever-changing schedule at Publix and having two children is making that an extremely tough challenge. It is unfortunate for Publix because they will eventually lose one of their best employees.

I won’t even get into the issue of paying more for vegetables so farm workers can have better wages. Publix cares even less about farm workers than it does about families and single parents.

When you look at how Publix treats its employees, mostly women, and farm workers, mostly immigrants and Mexicans, it seems appropriate and inevitable that the Publix corporation would support Trump. No surprise at all.

I was always a writer but lived in a bookkeeper’s body before I found Medium and broke free — well, almost. Working to work less and write more.

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