By Siddharth Cavale
NEW YORK (RockedBuzz via Reuters) – Hundreds of workers at five US Walmart facilities fulfilling e-commerce orders are being asked to find jobs within 90 days at other company locations, a spokesperson confirmed to RockedBuzz via Reuters.
Approximately 200 workers in Pedricktown, New Jersey, and hundreds more in Fort Worth, Texas; Chino, Calif.; Daveport, Florida; and Bethlehem, Pa., were fired due to a reduction or elimination of evening and weekend shifts, the spokesman said.
The layoffs at Walmart, a retail staple due to its size, could herald further turmoil in the US economy, which many economists believe could enter a recession this year.
Fears of an impending recession have already led retailers to announce 17,456 job cuts so far in 2023, up from 761 in the same period last year, according to a March report by Challenger, Gray and Christmas.
Amazon, Neiman Marcus and Lidl are among the retailers cutting jobs, largely corporate staff.
“We recently adjusted staffing levels to better prepare for future customer needs,” Walmart said in a statement, adding that it will work closely with affected employees to find jobs at other locations.
The spokesman said affected workers would be paid 90 days to find work at other facilities, including those in Joliet, Illinois, and Lancaster, Texas, where the company has opened new high-tech e-commerce distribution centers.
Walmart has invested heavily in automation in recent years, partnering with companies like Knapp to help it reduce the number of steps employees need to process e-commerce orders to five from 12, which is being implemented at its Pedricktown, location of New Jersey, for example.
In a post-earnings call in February, Walmart CEO Doug McMillon said he was “very excited about the automation opportunity that we have” with plans to increase investment in automation technology as part of his $15+ billion budget. dollars for this year’s capital expenditures.
The CEO’s comments followed a cautious full-year forecast from the retailer, which CFO John David Rainey said was due to a lot of “trepidation and uncertainty about the economic outlook.”
The workers laid off at the five fulfillment centers will be eligible for roles at Walmart’s 5,000 U.S. stores, which the company increasingly uses as a platform to ship orders to homes, the spokesperson said. Walmart is the largest private employer in the US with approximately 1.7 million US workers.
Aside from Pedricktown, New Jersey, Walmart has not issued a Workers Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) notice for the layoffs, according to a RockedBuzz via Reuters review of government labor data. A NOTICE notice is mandated by United States labor law and requires companies with 100 or more employees to provide 60 days notice of mass plant closures and layoffs.
The spokesman declined to call them mass layoffs and said the warehouses continued to operate as normal. The company has not issued a warning notice for the other locations as it is unsure of the total number of employees that will ultimately be laid off and rehired, the spokesperson added.
(Reporting by Siddharth Cavale to New York Editing by Nick Zieminski)