Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Sears: Above and Beyond the Call of Duty

Papa Ray sent us an email the other day which included several forwards. Given the sheer volume of mail we get, I don’t often dip into the forwards. But for some reason I opened this one and was pleasantly surprised to find some good news.

I’m passing this excellent bit of information on via this post because I’m so tired of the MSM emphasis on bad news, back-biting, out-of-context sound bites, and the trivial scandals generated by trivial people whose claim to fame is… simply fame. Usually these famous “personalities” are noted mostly for degraded sexual exploits or excessive substance abuse that makes a revolving door out of treatment centers. How long can you read about those narcissists before realizing they are trifling idiots who belong in an assisted-living home with round-the-clock caretakers?

Ahem… I digressed. Here’s some good news, via Papa Ray:

Everyone in the U. S. knows Sears Roebuck, right? It’s been around since forever: a good place to go for tools, appliances, and flannel shirts. No one expects haute couture or cutting-edge anything from Sears. It’s solid and stolid and that’s been the foundation of their success.


A few years ago, K-Mart bought up Sears. Then Sears turned around and bought up K-Mart [and, no, I don’t understand how they do that] The result was a hybrid renamed Sears Holding Corporation. This factoid isn’t a necessary part of the story, except to say that SHLD (its stock market designation) has a much-admired CEO, who the stock market hopes will make a grand success of all this merging and purging.

Meanwhile, though, what hasn’t been much publicized is Sears’ policy about any employees called up by the military. Evidently the story about their policies have been floating around the internet for a long time. The longer something is out there, the more questionable/mythical it becomes. Wally Ballou has instilled the in me the habit of checking with Snopes for verification when I stumble across a too-good-to-be-true tale before I embarrass myself by passing it on.

Here’s what Snopes says about Sears:
- - - - - - - - -
Claim: Sears pays the difference in salaries and maintains benefits for their called-up military reservist employees.

Status: True.

Example: [(an email) collected on the Internet, 2003]

“I HOPE you have all seen the reports about how Sears is treating its reservist employees who are called up? By law, they are required to hold their jobs open and available, but nothing more. Usually, people take a big pay cut and lose benefits as a result of being called up.

Sears is voluntarily paying the difference in salaries and maintaining all benefits, including medical insurance and bonus programs, for all called up reservist employees for up to two years. I submit that Sears is an exemplary corporate citizen and should be recognized for its contribution.”

That’s the claim someone sent in for verification. What follows is Snopes’ reply:

Origins: Although many employers look favorably on military service and even encourage it, there are some who find it burdensome to have an employee who spends time away from the job. Military reservists and National Guard members pose a particular challenge to employers because they’re subject to recall to active duty at any time - call-ups to active service during times of war may not occur often, but active duty recalls can occur even during peacetime, and nearly every reservist has to take occasional leave from his regular job for monthly drills and annual training.

In order to provide a measure of employment security to reservists subject to active duty recall and minimize the disadvantages that occur when reservists need to be absent from their civilian employment to serve in the uniformed services, the United States enacted the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) in 1994. Codified in Chapter 43, Part III, Title 38 of the United States Code, this act mandates that “any person whose absence from a position of employment is necessitated by reason of service in the uniformed services shall be entitled to reemployment rights and benefits.”

Of course, reservists give up more than just their jobs when they’re called up for active duty. Although the law may require that their former positions be waiting for them when they return, many reservists still have to deal with the financial hardships of the difference in pay between their civilian jobs and their military positions; as well, other job benefits they may lose out on while on active duty (such as medical insurance coverage or participation in employer bonus plans) are not guaranteed to them. Some employers voluntarily go the extra mile for their reservist employees, making up the difference between their regular pay and their military pay while they’re on active duty and ensuring that all employer-sponsored benefits associated with their jobs remain in force…

Sears is indeed one of the employers who take additional steps to show support for employees involved in serving their country (either in the Reserves or the National Guard) by guaranteeing the continuance of their civilian pay (for up to 60 months) and allowing continued participation in life insurance, medical and dental programs. Many other companies, large and small, do the same for their workers, but as one of the nation’s oldest and largest employers, Sears… gets the publicity for setting a prominent example.

The little jibe there - “as one of the nation’s oldest and largest employers, Sears gets the publicity for setting a prominent example”- isn’t warranted. Any company that has this kind of generous policy in effect is commended publicly by the government and is free to publicize their commitment in their stores, online, with advertising, etc.

You can find the Sears commendation here. If you click on the site you’ll see they do far more than simply providing pay and benefits and help with housing for military families.

Look here also for their project “Heroes at Home.”

Thanks for the heads-up, Papa Ray.

4 comments:

OregonGuy said...

Thanks. I needed a positive comment to lift my day.

falcon_01 said...

It's been a long time since I've shopped there... I'll be sure to remedy that next time I need something!

Gringo_Malo said...

A number of well known, and not so well known, companies have received awards from the Secretary of Defense for support of the Guard and Reserve. Sears and Toyota received it in 2005, Wal-mart, Home Depot, Adolph Coors, and Harley-Davidson in 2004, and Starbucks in 2006. So, on your way to Wal-mart, Home Deport, and Sears, whether sipping a Starbucks latte in your Toyota Camry or sucking down a Coors on your Harley hog, you'll be supporting the troops.

Don Miguel said...

There are actually a small number of companies that pay Guard and Reserve members called up full salary and benefits in addition to their military pay. That is really going the extra mile!