Imagine getting up to go to work and arriving to find out that the company has gone out of business. That would be traumatic, right? Well, such was the case at three Houston-area Sam’s Clubs on Thursday and neither the employees nor the shoppers had any warning. According to KHOU’s Jason Miles, unless they get transfers to other Sam’s Clubs or Walmart stores, thousands of employees will get a 60-day severance and effectively be unemployed.
Just this morning, Donald Trump announced on Twitter that the GOP tax cuts led to an increase in the starting hourly wages at Walmart from $9 to $11, expanded employee benefits, and potential worker bonuses of up to $1,000. But there was no mention of plans to close some 63 stores nationwide. As many as 11,000 employees have been impacted by the sudden move that many predict was well-orchestrated. Every store that will be shut down in the coming weeks has already been removed from the company website.
“Great news, as a result of our TAX CUTS & JOBS ACT!” Trump tweeted captioning Fox News’ Mornings with Maria video of the announcement.
Great news, as a result of our TAX CUTS & JOBS ACT! pic.twitter.com/SLvhLxP3Jl
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 11, 2018
Sam’s Club CEO John Furner sent out a company-wide email on Thursday announcing their plans in light of recent developments. Other employees were notified via FedEx which were delivered to their homes.
“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,” Furner explained in the email. “We will be closing some clubs, and we notified them today. We’ll convert some of them into eCommerce fulfillment centers — to better serve the growing number of members shopping with us online and continue scaling the SamsClub.com business.”
Sam’s Club shutdown? Employees at this S Loop store tell me they showed up to work and were told store is closed effective today. Sign on door says same thing. Hearing other stores also affected. Waiting on answers from parent company, Walmart #khou11 pic.twitter.com/RtbY7EhiIK
— Jason Miles (@JMilesKHOU) January 11, 2018
While Sam’s Club has plans to take care of their customers by refunding the $45 membership fees, the impact of the closures on poorer communities and low-income workers could be devastating. Business Insider reported that three of the locations that will close their doors are in Puerto Rico.
“The Barceloneta, Puerto Rico store closed without notice — over 950 people without jobs,” Eliezer Cabrera told Business Insider. “This is the last thing Puerto Rico needed after Hurricane Maria devastated the island.”