*I shudder to think what my family would do if I worked at Walmart and was only given two days notice that I would be out of a job. But that is what the employees at the three-floor Walmart in the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza was hit with on the morning of January 17, 2016.
48-hours later the doors were closed…for good!
Now I don’t know if employees in EVERY Walmart store that is closing was given such short notice, but employees at the Baldwin Hills-Crenshaw Plaza location are feeling all kinds of emotional; wondering what their next steps should be. There has even been talk of a protest. But really, what good would that do? It’s not like Walmart is going to reopen the stores they claim they closed due to poor financial performance.
I do find the rather upbeat and hopeful attitude, amidst this closure, of political leaders that represent this community quite surprising. I don’t know, I know its their job to stay game-face-ready, but I am sure those employees wouldn’t mind a little attitude in this particular case.
For example, Councilman Curren Price, who I have always liked, stated, “Their [Wal-Mart] departure will create an opportunity for a more progressive organization to take advantage of the significant public and private sector investments being made in the area to enhance the quality of life for residents.”
And though L. A. City Council President Herb Wesson, Jr. admits he was “surprised” at the closure of the Crenshaw store, I found myself wanting more from his statement: “First and foremost, I want to ensure employees are given the opportunity to keep their jobs by transferring to neighboring stores and regardless of the situation I will continue to work to ensure local residents have access to fresh foods in our communities.”
I don’t know exactly what I expected these gentlemen to say. But if I am being totally honest here, it would’ve sounded something like this:
“This is preposterous! How are you going to put hundreds of people out of work with only 48-hours notice!!! I insist they are compensated on some level for the inconvenience if they are not placed in positions at neighboring Walmart stores in a timely manner.”
Walmart has already claimed that more than 95 percent of the stores they closed in the U.S. are within 10 miles on average of one another. So how realistic is it to think these employees, who probably live as close to their job as possible, will be placed in a geographic location suitable to their travel ability?
At least Laphonza Butler, President of SEIU Local 2015 showed he has a pulse; by at least alluding to the audacity of Walmart to so nonchalantly terminate this location.
“Wal-Mart fought so hard to get a foothold in our community, yet has so easily decided to pack up and leave without much notice to neither its shoppers nor its employees. Hopefully this will create an opportunity for new businesses to come in that will share our commitment to the success of our community while creating not just jobs, but good jobs that deliver the livable wage and benefits workers deserve.”
THAT’s what I’m talking about!
With the operation of 4,500 stores in the United States alone, and a U. S. workforce of 1.4 million, the retailer is set to shut down 269 of its stores. According to CEO Doug McMillon’s written statement,
“Closing stores is never an easy decision, but it is necessary to keep the company strong and positioned for the future.”
But his attempt to appease this community may fall on deaf ears.
“It’s important to remember that we’ll open more than 300 stores around the world next year. We are committed to growing, but we are being disciplined about it.”
Especially those who were only given 48-hours notice.
Most of the store closing in the U.S. will supposedly be “small format stores” called Walmart Express, which were launched as a test program in 2011. The remaining 115 locations that will shut down are spread over Latin America, mostly in Brazil.
The Associated Press states that Wal-Mart said they would stick to the plan announced last year to open 50 to 60 super-centers; 85 to 95 Neighborhood Markets, and 7 to 10 Sam’s Clubs in the U.S. during the fiscal year that begins Feb. 1. Outside the U.S., Wal-Mart plans to open 200 to 240 stores.
We will update as this issue unfolds. In the meantime, please remain prayerful for all of the employees around the globe who have been affected by these closures.