Walmart, America’s largest private employer, announced to much fanfare on Thursday that it is raising the company-wide minimum wage from $10 to $11—a move eagerly touted by President Donald Trump. However, Walmart didn’t loudly announce that it was, at the same time, moving to shut down more than 60 Sam’s Club stores nationwide and lay off thousands of workers.
“Walmart gave out what amounts to about two percent of the value of their tax cut over 10 years in bonuses. Got praise from the president. Meanwhile, it was abruptly shutting stores across the country. It’s diabolical.”
—Judd Legum, ThinkProgress
Sam’s Club is a wholly owned subsidiary of Walmart, and it is named after Walmart founder Sam Walton. According to Business Insider, many of the company’s employees didn’t know they had lost their jobs until they showed up for work Thursday morning.
Following news of the mass layoffs and store closures, ThinkProgress’ Judd Legum argued the timing of Walmart’s wage announcement “was almost certainly not an accident.”
In addition to inflating the generosity of the new bonuses, Walmart appears to have launched its wage hike press blitz “to cover for thousands of unannounced layoffs,” Legum writes.
“It would look very bad to announce dozens of store closures and thousands of layoffs right after receiving a massive corporate tax cut,” he notes, referencing the $1.5 trillion tax plan Trump signed into law last month. “So instead, Walmart gave out what amounts to about two percent of the value of their tax cut over 10 years in bonuses. Made a big deal about it. Got praise from the president. Meanwhile, it was abruptly shutting stores across the country. It’s diabolical.”
“Walmart is pulling off an extremely devious two-step,” concluded George Zornick, Washington editor of The Nation.
During a press briefing on Thursday, both Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders were asked to comment on the mass layoffs—and on the administration’s attempt to take credit for the wage increases, but not the dozens of store closures.
“I don’t have any comment on that specific component,” Sanders said of the thousands of Sam’s Club workers who are losing their jobs.
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