Hands off Walmart’s trash!

Let this be a lesson to you: Don’t pick up Walmart’s trash.

In upstate New York, a Walmart worker who was paid $9 an hour to collect shopping carts in the parking lot, was fired because he picked up bottles and cans that people threw on the ground and turned them in to get the deposit back.

Thomas Smith admitted to turning in $5.10 worth of bottles and cans.

(Video link)

“She said that’s stealing and I said I didn’t steal anything,” Smith told an Albany TV station.

“Mr. Smith was terminated due to theft inside of the store and has signed a statement admitting to the crime,” a Walmart spokesman said.

“I didn’t know you couldn’t take empties left behind. They were garbage,” Smith told the Albany Times Union newspaper. “I didn’t even get a chance to explain myself. They told me to turn in my badge.”

A GoFundMe page has raised about $2,500 for Smith after the story appeared in the local paper.

  • LilAsil

    Walmart, all I can do is shake my head……

  • MrE85
    • Kassie

      Taking other people’s recycling from their bins is a crime. Picking up garbage off the street and bringing it in for recycling is not.

      • MrE85

        I understand the distinction. But he’s picking up recyclables in the store’s parking lot. Still a bonehead move by Wal-Mart.

  • Kassie

    People say unions are no longer needed or aren’t relevant, then they become outraged when things like this happen. Things like this are the exact reason unions are still needed.

    • jon

      The $9 an hour part or the fired for picking up trash and selling it for 5¢ a can on company time part?

      Both are very good reasons to have systems in place (unionsor something else) to keep employers from exploiting humanbeings, because both demonstrate that exploitation isn’t something from a long forgotten past.

  • kevins

    The same thing happened to my brother when he was employed by a Walmart in Ohio. Both sides lost in that transaction.

  • BReynolds33

    Walmart did something stupid to its employee? Man… that almost never happens.

  • Mike Worcester

    //“Mr. Smith was terminated due to theft inside of the store and has
    signed a statement admitting to the crime,” a Walmart spokesman said.

    Well then if he really did commit a “crime” call the local law enforcement and have him arrested and prosecuted. Otherwise it’s just a big corporation being petulant.

    Perhaps next time I’m at a Wal-Mart, I’ll pick up the cans and bottles in the parking lot, bring them inside and say “These are yours, right? Don’t want to be accused of stealing your property donchyaknow…..”.

  • ChrisF

    There might be something Walmart has that spells this out clearly in their employee handbook and training. As silly as it may seem perhaps they needed to deal with employees knocking over recycle bins and claiming it was liter and therefore free to take. And a lot of company security regulations specify grounds for termination for violations.

    • Jack Ungerleider

      All very true. The reality is that he must have been doing it for some time, or there were a lot of stray cans in the parking lot. The total of $5.10 comes to 102 recyclable containers at the standard NY deposit of 5 cents a can.

      I don’t shop Walmart on a regular basis, but I don’t remember seeing “recycle bins” anywhere the last time I was there.

      • ChrisF

        I think he says something about bringing cans to ‘the can machine’ and that he took some from that too? It’s hard to hear a lot of what he says. But maybe it’s his taking from this that led to trouble. I have no idea but does the store use recycle money for charitable donations (probably not but maybe)?

        By no means do I want to be a Walmart defender and, yeah, it’s hard to not have sympathy for this guy but there might be a little bit more here than the guy just innocently picking up liter for a couple bucks.

        • Jack Ungerleider

          (Note: I haven’t lived there for 30 years, but have family in NY and I visit periodically.) What most stores have is redemption machine that you put the cans and/or bottles into and it will either dispense money or provide a redemption ticket that you take to a customer service counter to get your money. I would expect that the 5 cents is treated as part of the cost of the product that is passed on to the consumer. The difference is that the money has to be available to refund when the container is recycled. There are also not controls on bringing containers purchased elsewhere into store and recycling them there. So part of this might be seen as cost control on Walmart’s part.

  • essjayok

    The real story here is that Mr. Smith felt the need to pick up bottles and cans to make some extra income because $9/hour is NOT a livable wage! And then he was punished further for that fact. What a world we live in!

    • minnesotalistener

      And that he didn’t cease and desist after someone talked to him about the problem. Oh wait! Nowhere is it suggested that anyone conferred with him prior to this action.