NEW YORK (AP) – Walmart confirmed Thursday that it is closing dozens of Sam’s Club warehouse stores – a move that a union-backed group estimated could cost thousands of jobs – on the same day the company announced that it was boosting its starting salary for U.S. workers and handing out bonuses.
The world’s largest private employer said it was closing 63 of its 660 Sam’s Clubs over the next weeks, with some shut already.
Making Change at Walmart, a campaign backed by the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, estimates that 150 to 160 people work at each Sam’s Club store.
On Twitter, Sam’s Club responded to people’s queries by saying, “After a thorough review of our existing portfolio, we’ve decided to close a series of clubs and better align our locations with our strategy.”
The closest Sam’s Clubs to the Sauk Valley are in the Quad Cities and Rockford. The Moline store on 44th Avenue is on the list of stores that will be closed. The Davenport and Rockford stores will remain open.
Earlier in the day, Walmart had cited the sweeping Republican tax overhaul that will save it money in announcing the higher hourly wages, one-time bonuses and expanded parental benefits that will affect more than a million hourly workers in the U.S.
The company said the wage increase – $11 per hour starting pay – benefits all hourly U.S. workers at its stores, including Sam’s Club, as well as hourly employees at its websites, distribution centers – including the one in Rock Falls – and its Bentonville, Arkansas, headquarters. The one-time bonus between $200 and $1,000 will be given to Walmart employees who won’t receive a pay raise.
In all, Walmart employs 1.5 million in the U.S.
Walmart also announced that full-time hourly U.S. employees can get 10 weeks of paid maternity leave and six weeks of paid parental leave. Before, full-time hourly workers received 50 percent of their pay for leave. Salaried employees, who already had 10 weeks paid maternity leave, will receive more paid parental leave.
For the first time, Walmart also promised to help with adoptions, offering full-time hourly and salaried workers $5,000 per child that can be used for expenses such as adoption agency fees, translation fees and legal or court costs.
AP Business writers Michelle Chapman in Newark, New Jersey; Chris Rugaber in Washington, D.C.; and Joyce M. Rosenberg in New York contributed to this report.