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Publix Lowers Per-hour Rate for New Employees

LAKELAND, Fla. - Publix Super Markets Inc. is implementing a 50 cent-per-hour reduction in hourly pay scales for new employees in roughly one out of every 10 stores, the Orlando Business Journal reports.

The pay reduction plan was contained in an internal memo, according to the journal. "Each year we evaluate our pay and benefit issues in order to remain competitive," said spokesman Lee Brunson, who added that the lower starting pay is for new employees and doesn't affect the pay rate for current workers ? although the chain reserves the right to do so at some later date.

Some industry observers speculate that the move addresses sharper competitive practices with players like Wal-Mart Inc.

Others wonder if the economic cutback signals preparation for a much-rumored sale of the company.

And union officials say the announcement could open the door to organization in the 697-store chain.

The pay scale cutbacks, which took effect May 1, adjust the scale downward for about 79 stores, according to the journal. Most are in smaller communities and less affluent neighborhoods.

Businesses working with Publix have seen a bottom-line oriented attitude at Publix since Charlie Jenkins Jr., nephew of the company's founder, took over last year, the journal reports.
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