In January, Walmart announced that it would raise its minimum wage to $11 for employees, crediting the benefit of President Trump’s corporate tax cut — but on the same day they also issued thousands of layoffs and dozens of store closures.
Reuters reported that the world’s largest retailer will cut 63 of its Sam’s Club discount warehouses, “or about one tenth of the chain overall,” according to an anonymous senior company official.
Along with the upping of wages for U.S. employees, Walmart said it would also offer a one-time cash bonus, based on length of service, of up to $1,000 and expand maternity and parental leave benefits.
In response to Walmart’s announcement on extending their paid parental leave policy, National Black Worker Center Project Executive Director Tanya Wallace-Gobern said it’s a start — but a start only.
“Today’s news from Walmart about an increased minimum wage and extended parental leave policies is a step in the right direction for the nation’s largest private employer of African Americans in the United States,” she said. “Let’s not forget that our country and big corporations like Walmart still have a long way to go to before adequately addressing higher unemployment rates, workplace discrimination, and low-wages in Black communities where Walmart keeps families in poverty.”
Wallace-Gobern said the steps that Walmart is taking are merely “breadcrumbs.”
“Walmart is deemed a leading company but is far behind the curve in terms of worker rights,” she said. “Black workers, and especially Black women, are at a great disadvantage even with these improvements that still do not match the standard of living that is needed for any worker with a family.
“At Walmart, working full-time still means earning less than the 2016 federal poverty line, so this is not economic justice for Black workers who make up approximately 46 percent of Walmart’s 1.5 million U.S. workers,” Wallace-Gobern said.
Walmart said the new tax law will create “some financial benefit for the company” and that it is looking at additional investments, according to Reuters.
“We are in the early stages of assessing the opportunities tax reform creates for us,” President and Chief Executive Doug McMillon said in a statement. “The law is an opportunity to be more competitive globally and to accelerate investment plans for the United States.”
Walmart’s announcement follows companies such as AT&T, Wells Fargo and Boeing that have all gleefully promised more pay for workers since the Republican-controlled Congress passed the biggest overhaul to the U.S. tax code in 30 years.
On Jan. 25, Bloomberg reported that in another round of cuts, Walmart will lay off up to 500 employees from its headquarters in an effort to compete with amazon.com.
The layoffs will hit the company’s marketing, human resources, merchandising, real estate, logistics and finance divisions, the Bentonville, Arkansas-based chain said.
Walmart said most of those affected will have 60 days to find a new role.
“We’ve been looking at our structure for some time as we explore ways to operate more effectively,” the company wrote in an emailed statement, Bloomberg reported. “Those efforts continue. We’re committed to handling every transition smoothly and ensuring everyone is treated as fairly and respectfully as possible.”