Earlier this month, Walmart suddenly and mysteriously closed five stores in four different states, citing “plumbing problems” as the reason for the six-month closure. The company’s advice to the thousands of employees it had just laid off? Don’t stress, avoid chocolate.
The documents, provided to us by the UFCW’s Walmart division (OUR Walmart), were reportedly handed out to workers the day they were laid off with just a few hours-notice. Consider it a little salt for your friendly neighborhood Walmart-inflicted wound:
Shoving a vague, generic handout at the thousands of people you’ve just fired is insulting in its own right, but Walmart’s coping literature is so phenomenally and willfully tone deaf, it’s almost impressive. To those who have just lost their jobs and been explicitly told there’s no guarantee of finding one at another store, Walmart advises:
- Eat well, exercise, and rest. Presumably with the money you no longer have and the time you now have to dedicate to job hunting.
- Avoid caffeine and chocolate! A great way to relieve the stress of no longer being able to pay your bills.
- “Seek help if reactions are interfering with job responsibilities.” The last thing you want is for getting fired to interfere with the job you have just been reminded you no longer have.
- Seek professional help. Great advice! Too bad you don’t have insurance.
In other words, the company is almost completely blind to the realities of many of its employees. For instance, the sheet is effectively useless for Jenny Mills, a nine-year employee of the Pico Rivera store before it shut down. As Mills explained to me over the phone:
I already couldn’t pay my rent or feed myself and my husband on the pay I was getting. So I’d already lost my apartment and was living in my car in their parking lot, and now I don’t know if I even have a job to go back to. It’s just gotten so ridiculous, and they didn’t give me any real help.
[The managers] told me to go find somewhere to live, and that there would be a possibility for fund from corporate if I did. But no apartment is willing to take you before you can actually pay. I told Walmart I’d need the money for an apartment ahead o time, but they said no, they don’t do it that way.
OUR Walmart also provided us with the below Q&A sheet touting the company’s party line on its bizarre and questionable explanation for the mass closings.
Of course, the whole thing is technically legal, since Walmart is paying its laid-off employees 60 days severance—but the likelihood of five different stores needing to be shut down simultaneously, all for six months, all due to plumbing issues, and all with just a few hours notice on the same day, is astronomically low. What’s more likely, at least in the Pico Rivera store’s case, is that the company was trying to quell the bevy of recent protests over pay and working conditions.
However, that still leaves the four other stores in California, Texas, Oklahoma, and Florida and the thousands of employees now out of a job. If you know anything more about Walmart’s closings, shoot us an email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Update 1:46 pm:
A Walmart spokesperson just got back to us with the following statement:
At this point, all associates are currently employed with Walmart. As I mentioned many will have the opportunity to transfer to other stores so they can continue their employment through the temporary closure. We are currently actively working to identify transfer opportunities for associates.
Whenever we have a situation that impacts our associates our goal is to provide them information that will help answer their questions, as well as provide guidance to resources and other information that would help through any transition. The “coping with transition” document is a standard resource we provide associates to help them manage the difficulties of discussing any type of work transition with others. It’s unfortunate that our critics are attempting to minimize this process by conveniently excluding all the other valuable information our associates received and need during this time.