About 2,200 people will be looking for jobs now that five Wal-Mart stores in Texas, California, Florida and Oklahoma will be temporarily closed for “extended repairs” to their plumbing systems. Two of the stores are in Texas and one in each of the other states.
The stores will be closed for about six months and workers were notified just a few hours before they lost their jobs on 7 p.m. on April 13.
“Everybody just panicked and started crying,” Venanzi Luna, a manager of the deli department at a Wal-Mart in Pico Rivera, California, told Fox 8. The store's 295 full-time employees and 248 part-time workers were surprised by the move.
All of the employees will be put on paid leave for two months and they can try to transfer to a different Wal-Mart store. Full-time employees who don’t find another position at Wal-Mart by June 19 may be eligible for severance.
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Pico Rivera City Manager Rene Bobadilla said, “This is the first time we’re hearing of their sewer problems.” Wal-Mart has not filed for any building permits, which would be required for major repair work.
City officials in Livingston, Texas, were told the plumbing issues were “ongoing and pervasive,” according to city manager Marilyn Sutton. She added that Wal-Mart hasn’t applied for any permits either because it has yet to determine what repairs are needed. That branch laid off 422 people.
A Wal-Mart spokesman said the stores have nothing in common besides faulty plumbing.
Luna believes the company isn’t telling the truth about why her store is closing. Employees at the Pico Rivera branch have been actively protesting for higher pay and led a Black Friday protest in 2012.
Joe Price, a diabetic who filled his prescriptions at Wal-Mart in Pico Rivera, agreed. “It’s a little too convenient that they all have the same problems at the same time, and their employees are laid off,” he told Whittier Daily News. “This shows the true face of Wal-Mart… I will never shop at Wal-Mart again.”
Image via Wal-Mart Stores Inc./Flickr