Walmart closed five stores at the same time on Monday, making headlines again this week. Walmart claims the stores will close temporarily, each for the exact amount of six months, while plumbing issues are addressed and repaired. Why, then, have more than 2,000 employees been laid off permanently?
According to the Consumerist, the closed Walmart stores are located in California, Oklahoma, Florida, and two in Texas. While the affected stores are slated to be closed only temporarily, a letter to the county states the employees were permanently laid off. Employees at the Pico Rivera, California, store are suspicious that the decision to close their particular branch may be in retaliation for the movement to go union. This is the first Walmart store to stage demonstrations in the pursuit of higher wages, as one employee mentioned.
“This is the first store that went on strike. This is the first store in demanding changes for Walmart.”
Each of the five Walmart stores was visited on Monday morning by corporate agents who informed workers that the stores would close that very evening for a period of approximately six months, apparently due to plumbing problems, reports ABC Action News. Walmart issued the following statement regarding the store in Brandon, Florida.
“The issues mostly relate to clogs and water leaks in the plumbing – we’ve had persistent issues over the last several years. These incidents impact the availability of water and create drainage issues for critical areas of the store which impacts our ability to serve customers.
“Normally, we do our best to avoid disrupting a store’s operations. However, given this particular store had one of the highest incidences of plumbing issues in the entire fleet and in order to reduce the costs associated with these incidents, we felt it was in the store’s best interest to invest in making the necessary improvements to resolve these issues.”
Employees and city officials alike are further suspicious due to the fact that none of the five stores have applied for plumbing permits. The Consumerist reports that Walmart issued a statement in defense of the decision to close stores.
“Our goal, of course, as a business is to keep our stores open and serving customers. We made a tough business decision in five locations around the country to fix recurring plumbing problems in these stores. We understand this decision has been difficult on our associates and our customers and we aim to reopen these stores as soon as these issues are resolved and improvements are made.”
What do you think? Did Walmart close these stores legitimately to address plumbing and building issues, or is it a sly attempt to retaliate against pro-union activists?
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