Walmart Closes Stores to Quell Worker Movement

Earlier this month, Walmart closed 5 stores in 4 states nationwide, giving workers just hours' notice that they would be laid off. The closings impacted a reported 2,200 employees who were told there was no guarantee they would be transferred or maintain their pay and hours and that if they would like to work at the stores when they reopen, they would need to reapply as if they had never worked there previously.

Walmart claims that the stores were closed due to alleged “plumbing problems” in the stores, yet the company has not applied for permits to do plumbing work in any of the five locations. Among the stores closed is the Pico Rivera, CA Walmart, which is home to some of the most vocal worker-activists in the country. Pico Rivera is the store where Walmart workers first went on strike in October 2012, launching the first Black Friday protests at Walmart and what would become a broad low-wage worker movement. More recently, workers in the store held some of the first large sit-down strikes and even participated in civil disobedience prior to the Black Friday protests in 2014. Pico Rivera workers have been vocal leaders in the fight for $15 and the protests they launched helped push Walmart to raise wages for half a million workers earlier this year.

Workers with OUR Walmart filed a charge with the National Labor Relations Board challenging the illegal and retaliatory store closings. The sudden closure of these five stores for alleged emergency “plumbing issues” is not the first time Walmart has taken dramatic action to quell worker action. In June of 2014, the Canadian Supreme Court ruled that Walmart had violated labor law when it closed a Jonquiére, Quebec Walmart store in 2004 that had voted to join a union, becoming the first unionized store in North America. In 2000, butchers in a Jacksonville, Texas Walmart voted to join UFCW Local 540. Two weeks later, Walmart closed its 180 meat departments in stores nationwide and switched to prepackaged case ready meat only. More recently, Walmart fired and disciplined more than 70 workers who participated in strikes in June 2013. After workers with OUR Walmart filed a charge with the National Labor Relations Board, it issued a complaint and is currently prosecuting Walmart.

You can support workers signing their petition calling for the reinstatement of workers at bit.ly/StandWithPico.