Walmart Closures Draw Suspicion; Rally on Monday

It's not getting a huge amount of news coverage, but the Walmart closure is drawing a lot of suspicion. People are tossing around the idea that it's the company shutting down to drive out union organizing:

"Some employees believe that the stores were closed because of worker protests for higher pay.

Employees of the Pico Rivera store were among the first to hold Black Friday protests in 2012.

'This is the first store that went on strike,' an employee told CBS Los Angeles. 'This is the first store in demanding changes for Walmart.'"

Read more:

According to the articles, the store claims that there are plumbing problems, at all five stores being closed. They also say that it'll take six months to fix.

CBS Local says there is a rally planned at the Pico Rivera store on Monday.

I don't recall it taking six months to build the entire Walmart store in Rosemead.

Is this illegal?

According to some research I've done, it is illegal to threaten a plant closure during a union drive. (See Bronfenbrenner below.) However, Walmart did *not* threaten anything - they just closed.

A mass layoff requires that the company file a notice with the state of California, under then WARN act. Because this wasn't a layoff, but a closure, Walmart did *not* need to file this notification.

Also, while a partial shutdown is illegal, a total shutdown is not. (See Bronfenbrenner.)

So, what Walmart did appears to be legal - but it points to their avoiding at least two laws that would have made this closure more difficult and triggered an immediate lawsuit.

According to a comment at Infowars, a very-far-right-wing website that goes into conspiracies, workers were told to apply for jobs at adjacent stores. (See Infowars link.) Presumably, increased demand will require increased staffing.

SGV Trib broke this story:

Video from inside the closed store:

Comment on Facebook show intential violation of WARN

Also regarding the KTLA story:

Look at this story. It's pretty good, but the news fell for the spin about a "severance package". The WARN Act says the company must file notification about layoffs. If they don't, they must pay 60 days of wages. Walmart didn't file, and just shut down without a warning. So they need to pay this penalty. It's not a "severance package" like the story says.