Some employees accused Wal-Mart Stores Inc. of closing of store in the Los Angeles area in retaliation for workers demanding for better wages and benefits.
The largest U.S. retailer denied the allegation, explaining the reason for its temporary closing for five stores in four states is to tackle recurring plumbing problems. The location in Pico Rivera, California is included in its closures that has been the site of wage and working condition protests in recent years.
A group of employees backed by the United Food and Commercial Workers Union described the move as “retaliatory”. Wal-Mart had not requested any city plumbing permits for the Pico Rivera store, said by the workers and city officials.
So this is it, Pico Rivera WalMart location where hundreds of employees were laid off as part of the company’s mysterious nationwide “plumbing” problem.
Rene Bobadilla, Pico Rivera City Manager described the sudden manner in which the company closed the store as atypical but said the city had offered its help to expedite the work needed to be done to get the store open again.
He was focused on helping the 533 employees affected by the closure to find work and services.
According to Wal-Mart emailed statement, it made the decision to close the Pico Rivera location and four other stores because they all required extensive repairs.
The company expresses, “Our goal, of course, as a business is to keep our stores open and serving customers. We understand this decision has been difficult on our associates and our customers and we aim to reopen these stores as soon as these issues are resolved and improvements are made.”
Wal-Mart recently announced plans to hike its minimum hourly wage to at least $9 an hour nationally as part of a $1 billion investment in better pay and benefits for its employees. That move sparked several other retailers to raise wages, although labor advocates have said they want more.
Given the history at the Pico Rivera location, the store closure could very well have more to do with employees’ views on wages, working conditions, and retaliation than it does with “clogs, leaks, and plumbing issues.”