Employees and customers are not buying Walmart’s explanation that it is closing five nationwide stores for six months due to “plumbing” issues, with questions swirling about the sudden closures that left hundreds of workers unemployed.
As we reported yesterday, Walmart stores in Pico Rivera, California, Livingston, Texas, Midland, Texas, Brandon, Florida, and Tulsa, Oklahoma, all announced that they were abruptly closing for the exact same reason – plumbing problems that would take six months to resolve. The explanation caused consternation given that entire Walmart stores have been built within the same time frame.
Employees were told the same day that they were going to be laid off, prompting questions as to why the repair work was not planned in advance. Director of Public Works James Enriquez said a Walmart in Pico Rivera, California, had not even notified authorities of plumbing problems, despite the fact that the company would be required to pull permits before undertaking extensive work.
Customers reacted to the announcements by expressing their skepticism at the “plumbing” explanation.
“Why is it just plumbing problems? It’s gonna take them six months to fix up the store?” John Mambrl told WTSP.
10 News also reported that no plumbing trucks were seen at the Walmart in Brandon, Florida, while city officials said they had no record of any code violation at the store. Officials also visited the site and found no evidence of any repair work taking place.
When asked why the five different Walmart stores all closed at the same time for the same reason, a Walmart spokesperson merely reiterated the plumbing explanation, leading shopper Norma Espinosa to ask, “How many things have they not said? That’s scary,”
As the video below shows, police resources are also having to be used to guard the closed Walmart in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Customers there also thought that the “plumbing” explanation sounded dubious, with one employee relating how she had asked about the issue in a meeting. “They would not give me an exact answer to anything,” she told NewsOn6.
The city of Tulsa also denied that any plumbing permit applications from Walmart had been received.
ABC Action News reported that, “None of the five affected stores have sought any plumbing permits for future repairs.”
“I think it’s a lie, I think it’s something else,” another shopper said in reaction to the closure of the Pico Rivera Walmart.
A Walmart official at another closed store in Midland, Texas denied that the closure was a method of trimming highly paid employees, who earn $14-an-hour.
Footage shot at the Walmart in Livingston, Texas shows shelves being emptied before the closure of the store.
Watch the video below for a summary of all the closures.