On the same day Walmart announced it was raising their hourly wage to $11 and giving out one-time bonuses of up to $1,000 (the highest amounts for those employed for at least 20 years), workers of Walmart-owned Sam's Club were sent packing. The membership warehouse is closing or converting 63 stores, with 50 to be closed for good.
The reason for the closures was said to be a better way to fill online orders, too many competing locations, and a lack of population growth in expected areas. Ten stores closed on Thursday and the rest will shut down over the coming weeks. An estimated 11,000 people could be affected by the closings. In some cases, employees found out about their job loss when they showed up for work and read a sign on the door.
The announcement of higher wages and bonuses on the same day Sam's employees are losing their jobs seems like the multi-billion dollar company is playing a game of PR smoke and mirrors. With revenue of $485.9 billion in the 2017 fiscal year, spending $400 million to raise wages and give bonuses hardly seems like much.
What's more, a statement on Walmart's website admits they stand to gain from the latest GOP tax break.
While the new law will create some financial benefit for the company, Walmart is early in the process of assessing potential additional investments. That assessment will be done not only through the lens of associates, customers and shareholders, but also within Walmart’s financial framework of strong, efficient growth, consistent operating discipline and strategic capital allocation.
There was also this odd statement:
The amount of the bonus will be based on length of service, with associates with at least 20 years qualifying for $1,000. A discrete one-time charge will be taken in the fourth quarter of the current year to account for the bonus.
Paul Ryan tried to sell this spin as a win for the tax breaks, but people weren't buying it:
Oh Paul Ryan, you silly man. Walmart employees have to have worked at Walmart for 20 YEARS before reaping the full $1K bonus. Stop bragging. This is PR spin designed to pivot attention from the riches Walmart reaps thanks to the #TaxBillScam. pic.twitter.com/myroES1sxk— Main Street Muse (@MainStreetMuse) January 11, 2018
So by lowering their taxes, we are still subsidizing Wal-Mart employees? Will this raise at least allow them to get off food assistance programs? Will they get full time hours and insurance benefits? 401k with a company match?— Average citizen (@IMAbusymom04) January 11, 2018
Ryan bragged about the tax plan helping to raise wages, something Walmart has been talking about since 2015 after being severely criticized by workers’ rights activists.
But people didn't forget about the Sam's Club closures:
You do know they laid off thousands of employees today with no notice? A little detail you failed to mention. But you go ahead and pay yourself on the back there chief.— Tim Dorough (@tad1956) January 11, 2018
We know, Joe. We know.