Walmart lays off hundreds of US workers at five e-commerce fulfillment centers

Hundreds of employees at five US Walmart facilities that fulfill e-commerce orders are being asked to find jobs at other company locations within 90 days, a spokesperson confirmed to Reuters.

About 200 workers in Pedricktown, New Jersey, and hundreds more in Fort Worth, Texas; Chino, California; Davenport, Florida; and Bethlehem, Pennsylvania were laid off due to a reduction or elimination of evening and weekend shifts, the spokesman said.

The layoffs at Walmart, a leading retail company due to its size, could herald further turmoil in the US economy, which many economists believe could slide into recession this year.

‘Adapted staffing’

“We recently made workforce adjustments to better prepare for future customer needs,” Walmart said in a statement, adding that it would work closely with affected employees to find jobs in other locations.

The spokesperson said affected workers would be paid for 90 days to find jobs 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 and is working with automation companies such as Knapp to reduce the number of steps it takes employees to process e-commerce orders from 5 to 12, which has been implemented at the Pedricktown, New Jersey location, for example .

During a post-earnings call in February, Walmart CEO Doug McMillon said he was “very excited about the automation opportunity we have” with plans to increase investment in automation technology as part of the more than $15 billion investment budget this year .

Notice for layoffs

Employees laid off at the five fulfillment centers will be eligible for positions at Walmart’s 5,000 U.S. stores, which the company is increasingly using as a platform to ship orders to customers’ doorsteps, the spokesperson said. Walmart is the largest private employer in the United States with approximately 1.7 million American employees.

Aside from Pedricktown, New Jersey, Walmart did not post a Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) for the layoffs, according to a Reuters survey of labor government data.

A WARN notification is required by U.S. labor law and requires companies with 100 or more employees to provide 60 days’ notice of plant closures and mass layoffs.

The spokesperson declined to call them mass layoffs and said warehouses continued to operate normally. The company has not issued a WARN notice for the other locations because it is uncertain about the total number of employees who will ultimately be laid off and rehired, the spokesperson added.

Modernization plans

The news comes months after the company laid off nearly 1,500 employees at an online order fulfillment center in Atlanta, Georgia, as part of a modernization plan to build warehouses with a more high-tech twist. The spokesman said the new round of layoffs had nothing to do with modernization plans.

In January, the company raised the minimum wage by $2 to $14 an hour. However, this still lagged behind Target and Amazon, which pay workers a starting wage of at least $15 an hour.

News by Reuters, additional coverage by ESM– your source for the latest retail news. Click subscribe to sign up ESM: European magazine for supermarkets.

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