The Mercury News Weekend

Walmart gives notice to hundreds of workers

- By Robert Higgs

>> Walmart, which already announced the closing of more than a dozen stores across the country, now has told hundreds of workers at five sites that fulfill e-commerce orders that they have 90 days to find jobs at other company locations.

The decision affects about 200 workers in Pedricktow­n, New Jersey. Hundreds of others at Chino; Fort Worth, Texas; Davenport, Florida; and

Bethlehem, Pennsylvan­ia were let go due to a reduction or eliminatio­n in evening and weekend shifts, a Walmart spokespers­on told Reuters.

The layoffs are significan­t, Reuters said, because Walmart is a retail bellwether because of its size. The job reductions could signal further turmoil in the U.S. economy, which many economists predict could enter recession this year.

Affected workers will be paid for 90 days to find jobs at other fulfillmen­t centers, including new high-tech centers in Joliet, Illinois, and Lancaster, Texas, or at any of Walmart's 5,000 U.S. stores and facilities, Walmart said. The company has been investing heavily in automation over the past few years, seeking to reduce the number of steps it takes employees to process e-commerce orders, according to Reuters.

Walmart has drawn national attention for a series of store closures announced in recent weeks.

In December, CEO Doug McMillon warned an increase in theft could force the retailer to either raise prices or close stores if the problem continued.

“Theft is an issue. It's higher than what it has historical­ly been,” he told CNBC's “Squawk Box.”

In March the company announced it would shutter its last two stores in Portland, Oregon's largest city, by the end of month that it said were not meeting financial expectatio­ns. Portland also has been grappling with retail theft, prompting police to run sweeps through some business districts.

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