On April 13th 2015 Walmart closed 5 stores simultaneously with only hours of notice given to employees. The only comments from the corporate headquarters are that the stores were undergoing “plumbing repairs” that would take 6 months to complete, and that these are not permanent closures.
Considering that Walmart has 4,520 locations in the US alone, that is not a huge number of stores. What is alarming is the amount of information that is flatly not being reported by national or corporate media outlets:
- The Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (WARN Act) requires employers to notify employees at least 60 days in advance if more than 50 employees at a single location are being laid off.
- Over 2,200 workers have been laid off and no advance notice was given at any locations..
- None of the Walmart locations have had reports of major plumbing issues out of the ordinary.
- None of the Walmart locations have, to date, applied for permits for any construction or renovation work.
- The Pharmacy location in Pico Rivera was open for a few days after the store closed, and tall shelving and plastic sheeting was erected around the pathway to the pharmacy to block the view of the rest of the store. While barriers preventing people from wandering into the store are necessary, having the Police immediately escort out anyone caught trying to take video inside the location is not normal or necessary.
- Hillsborough county commissioners have received notification from Walmart that the Brandon location is a permanent layoff.
- The cart corrals are being taken down in the parking lots.
- Locations on Google Maps are being marked as permanently closed, and their addresses are being removed from search databases.
- The only news outlets reporting on the closures are local news outlets in the affected cities. National and corporate news outlets are all silent.
- Employees have been offered 2 months paid leave and been told talk to the media, leaving many worried that those benefits may be revoked if they speak out.
In the last couple days as I have been researching this, it has become extremely difficult to find the physical addresses of the affected stores. Only by scouring the local news stories in each city and cross-referencing that data on street maps was I able to compile a list. Here are the stores that were closed:
Tulsa, Oklahoma (Supercenter #576)
207 S Memorial Dr.
Tulsa, OK 74112
Brandon, FL (Supercenter #3463)
1208 E Brandon Blvd.
Brandon, FL 33511
Midland, TX (Supercenter #608)
4517 Midland Dr.
Midland, TX 79707
Livingston, TX (Supercenter #275)
1620 W Church St.
Pico Rivera, CA (Supercenter #2886)
8500 Washington Blvd.
Pico Rivera, CA
While the corporate statement from Walmart insists that these are only temporary closures, all links to the stores have been removed from their website and Google Maps now showing the stores as “Permanently Closed,” which is a transition that can only be done by the verified owner of the businesses.
With the glaringly obvious blanket over national news coverage, and physical facts clearly refuting the “temporary layoff for plumbing repairs” excuse, speculation has run wild on the internet claiming closures are linked to military Jade Helm exercises, FEMA camps, or are corporate retaliation for employee protests for higher wages.
While it can be easy to make correlations to these items, I still remain an old-school journalist at heart: I am a researcher that deals only in facts. The only conclusive facts I can offer at this time are these:
- Walmart is lying about the reason for the store closures. These are permanent layoffs, and plumbing is not the root cause.
- Walmart has broken federal laws by not giving employees 60 days’ notice prior to closing the stores in defiance of the WARN Act. While this explains why employees were given 60 days of paid leave (in the eyes of the court this may be considered a fair alternative to giving 60 days notice), it does not satisfy the core purpose of the law: to ease the burden put on a community when a large pool of workers are laid off simultaneously.
- National and corporate news outlet have been directed to remain quiet on this news.
Stay tuned, this is dark news (items that are intentionally suppressed) and misdirection at its best, and there will be more to this story in the coming weeks.
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