Ken Kalthoff, NBC 5 News
Wal-Mart announced a giant round of promotions, some 25,000 employees will get raises. Wal-Mart's Chief Operating Officer Gisel Ruiz was on hand to give four employees the happy news in Dallas Tuesday.
Raises are in store for about 25,000 Wal-Mart employees during the holiday season, company officials said Tuesday.
The growing retailer wants to promote the career opportunities available to employees as it seeks to keep and attract workers.
Chief Operating Officer Gisel Ruiz attended an employee rally at the new Wal-Mart store on Northwest Highway at Skillman Street in Dallas on Tuesday to personally promote four employees to better-paying jobs.
Ruiz said she worked her way up through the company after starting 21 years ago as a lower-level associate at a California Wal-Mart.
"Opportunities are real," Ruiz told the workers. "Through hard work, dedication, work with integrity, opportunities for you to grow and promote are real and very, very possible."
Dakota Vinson, an inventory control specialist, was named toy department manager after two years with the company. He said the on-the-spot promotions during the Ruiz's visit came as a big surprise.
"I appreciate what the company has done for me," he said. "I plan to move up, and I really do hope I can make a career out of this."
A demonstration accusing Wal-Mart of low pay, poor benefits and bad working conditions was staged at the same store in September, backed by the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union.
Eleven demonstrators were arrested after blocking Skillman Street during the protest.
The union supports the group Our Wal-Mart, which has staged demonstrations at other stores in North Texas and around the nation.
Ruiz said the demonstrators do not represent the majority of employees.
"We focus on our associates," she said. "They're able to use the open door policy if they need to so we can address their concerns."
Demetrius Scott, who was promoted from housewares department manager to home lines zone manager supervisor, said she is pleased with Wal-Mart pay and benefits.
"They are actually good," she said. "I've been with the company seven years, and I've had the benefits since then, and they are awesome."
The Dallas store on Northwest Highway has about 350 employees.
More Wal-Mart stores are planned in Dallas and other parts of North Texas.