A Walmart official says the company is closing 53 Sam's Club stores and converting 10 others into fulfillment centers across the country, according to the superstore's Twitter account. The closure was described as abrupt, and some employees reportedly did not know it was coming.
Sixty-three stores in total will be closing, but customer traffic and sales comparisons - the typical reasons why companies scale back store count - can't entirely explain why Walmart has done this.
"After a thorough review, it became clear we had built clubs in some locations that impacted other clubs, and where population had not grown as anticipated", Sam's Club President and CEO John Furner wrote in a letter to employees.
The Sam's Club on Jefferson Avenue in Newport News will remain open, at least for the time being.
WQAD News 8 is working to get in touch with Moline's planning and development director about the situation.
Walmart will provide support and resources to those associates who are affected, including the bonus announced today and 60 days of pay, as well as severance to those eligible.
"The wage increases will make a big difference to Walmart's lowest-paid associates, but do not yet match Target's commitment to raise pay to $15 an hour", said the Organization United for Respect at Walmart.
The news broke on the same day that parent-company Walmart announced in a Tweet its plans to raise starting wages for hourly employees to $11, expand benefits and offer workers a "one-time bonus". For many of those employees, the news came as a complete surprise.
"(It's) disappointing, not just for the city, but more so for the employees that are losing their jobs", West Allis Alderman Kevin Haass said.
But that is a reasonable risk for Sam's Club to take. The union has been particularly aggressive against Walmart which it has often denounced as a bad and irresponsible employer. Those workers previously received up to eight weeks of maternity leave at half-pay, and were not entitled to parental leave. "Those of us who serve at the state and local levels of government stand ready and willing to work together to help find a better solution".
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