A union-backed group argued Tuesday a decision to close 269 stores worldwide shows Walmart only pretends to care about its employees.
The retail giant announced the closures Jan. 15 after an internal review of all its stores. Making Change at Walmart (MCAW) states the decision shows a clear disregard for company employees. The internal review looked into a number of factors such as financial performance and strategic alignment at all 11,600 stores worldwide. The closures include 154 stores based in the United States.
“Walmart is a company that, time and again, will say one thing and then do the opposite,” MCAW Communications Director Jess Levin said in a statement. “Public relations matters more to them than their customers, the community, or their employee.”
The U.S. closures included mostly Walmart Express stores which began as a pilot program in 2011. The pilot program included 102 of the smallest format stores. The company will instead focus on its large-scale stores.
“While it pretends to value its employees, the reality is, for Walmart, its workers are disposable,” Levin also noted. “Sadly, these latest store closings could very well be just the beginning. This sends a chilling message to the company’s hard-working employees that they could be next.”
MCAW is supported by the United Food and Commercial Workers Union. The union has a long history of attacking Walmart through advocacy groups including OUR Walmart. The union and its front-groups have held numerous protests against the store over the years to demand higher wages and better working conditions. OUR Walmart eventually fell to the wayside after internal problems caused it to split in two.
“Now more than ever, Walmart’s workers must work together to change Walmart for the better,” Levin added. “Clearly, the livelihoods of all Walmart employees depend on it.”
The union notes the decision will likely impact 10,000 workers nationwide. Walmart, however, plans to open even more regular sized stores going forward which likely caused a rise in employment.
“Closing stores is never an easy decision,” Walmart President Doug McMillon said in a statement. “But it is necessary to keep the company strong and positioned for the future. It’s important to remember that we’ll open well more than 300 stores around the world next year. So we are committed to growing, but we are being disciplined about it.”
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