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Tempe Costco worker says don't believe Obama

TEMPE, Ariz. -- One day after his State of the Union address, President Obama went shopping to prove that companies can pay their workers more money.

He visited a Costco store in the Washington, D.C. area to praise the company for paying higher than the minimum wage.

"Entry level employees here (at Costco), including stock associates and cashiers, start at $11.50 an hour," he said.

At the Costco in Tempe, a cashier who wished to remain anonymous said there is more to the story than that.

While the store pays $11.50, he complained that Costco works its employees too hard. He said that his store has a high turnover rate and is understaffed, leading to a heavier work load for those that still work there.

Obama said if American companies start to pay their workers more, that would change.

"I guarantee that if workers had a little more money in their pocket, they'll spend more at Costco," the president said. "And if Costco starts seeing more customers, they'll start hiring some more folk."

One customer at the Tempe store thinks Costco treats its employees right. Mary Anderson said she has shopped there for years.

"I've just thought it was great," she said. "I've watched a lot of the kids put themselves through college."

Anderson said that employee treatment is one thing that keeps her shopping at Costco instead of the Walmart across the street.

"I don't like the way they treat their employees, and I don't like some of the products they import," she said. "Even though some of Costco's products are imported, I still like them better."

About the Author


Years with the company: I started on January 2, 2006.

Education: I was born in San Antonio, Texas, but we moved to Phoenix when I was one-year-old in 1957. I grew up here and graduated from Alhambra High School and attended Phoenix College.

Family: I live in north Phoenix with my wife Rene' and my son Devin.

Favorite food: Lots of favorite food, but our favorite restaurant is Fajitas.

Favorite spot in Arizona: The Little America Hotel in Flagstaff.

Favorite news memory: We have to go back to October 15, 1979. I was a country music air personality at KROP Radio in Brawley, California, when we had a 6.7 earthquake. Thankfully, there were no deaths and only minor injuries, but the entire community was pretty freaked out and listening to the station on their transistor radios. I would not want to go through an earthquake again, but it sure was a great night to work in radio and see how it can make a difference in people's lives.

First job: Working as a stringer for 'The Arizona Republic' at high school football games. My first real job was flipping burgers at the old Sandy's Hamburgers at 51st Avenue and Indian School Road. My first radio job was as announcer at KALJ radio in Yuma in 1977.

First concert: My Dad took me to see Jimmy Dean at the Arizona State Fairgrounds in the 1960's. It was before the Coliseum was built. The only thing I remember is Jimmy Dean singing his big hit "Big Bad John."

Favorite sports team: Phoenix Roadrunners minor league hockey. My dad took me to a game when I was in grade school, and I was hooked. I wanted to be a radio hockey play-by-play man. I used to take my cassette recorder and sit up in the rafters of the Coliseum and do play-by-play. It was great later in life to also take my son to Roadrunners games. Too bad the team just folded, I'll miss them. (Going to the Coyotes is fun, but they're not "my" team.)

Outside interests: My family and I are active in our church - Shiloh Community Church in Phoenix. Devin is a high school student at Scottsdale Christian Academy. He plays on the baseball, football, and basketball teams and sings in the choir. Obviously, we keep busy trying to go to all his events! We enjoy going to movies, sporting events, and long road trips. We like to vacation at the Beach Cottages in the Pacific Beach area of San Diego. And I love to play catch, basketball, football with my son.

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