Hundreds unemployed after Sam’s Club closures in Puerto Rico
BAYAMÓN, Puerto Rico – Two Sam’s Club locations in Puerto Rico did not open Thursday, without prior notification to its workers, while another store affected by Hurricane María will not resume operations.
In addition, some of the administrative functions that were handled from the central offices in Caguas and now in Los Colobos, Carolina, will be managed from the corporate offices in Arkansas.
The company’s warehouses, which belong to the Walmart chain and will remain closed, are in Bayamón, Humacao and Barceloneta. It is estimated that more than 500 workers were affected by the four closures, adding to job losses in the aftermath of Sept. 20’s historic hurricane.
Caribbean Business witnessed how employees, who arrived to report for work as usual, would gather at the exit of one of the establishments. With cellphone in hand, they learned what happened through social media. A sign, saying “This Club will remain closed today,” was the only information workers and customers received when they went to the store.
“It’s the same modus operandi; they close the doors and don’t notify the employees,” said a supplier, who had arrived at the Caná urbanization Sam’s Club in Bayamón to provide his services.
Visibly regretful, one of the locale’s managers indicated he was not authorized to comment but the company “will do everything possible” to offer options to the dismissed employees. However, some of the workers fear the worst, because only one Sam’s Club remains to serve the entire municipality of Bayamón, and employees had not received information about their possible relocation to other stores.
Regarding the closure of administrative offices in Caguas, CB sources said notification of the decision was sent to staff early Thursday, who were working in temporary offices at the Sheraton hotel in the Convention District. After the passage of Hurricane María, the administrative offices had to be closed after sustaining significant damage. Operations were temporarily transferred to the hotel’s second floor.
Salary increase announced
While hundreds of Puerto Rican workers are now suddenly out of work, Walmart announced it plans to raise its starting wage rate from $9 to $11 and hour and expand some of its fringe benefits.
The raise, which will apply to stateside Sam’s Club employees, is expected to go into effect in mid-February. It is unclear whether the new hourly rate applies to Puerto Rico.
At the time of this publication, multiple calls seeking comment to Walmart’s corporate communications department were unanswered.