Imagine this: You’re on your way to work on what seems to be a typical January morning, taking a breath as you ready yourself for the day. You reach for the front door and it’s locked. No notice, no explanation. Then imagine seeing dozens of articles about your company shutting down 10 percent of its locations and finding out that one of those locations is yours.
For nearly an estimated 10,000 Sam’s Club workers, including over 500 here in Arizona, this was their reality, and they have none other than Walmart to thank.
Thousands of workers and their families woke up on Jan. 11 to the news that Walmart is shutting down 63 of its Sam’s Club locations nationwide, including completely pulling out of entire states, like Alaska, and shutting down half dozen locations outside of just one city- Chicago. And unfortunately for Arizona, the Scottsdale, Chandler, Prescott Valley, and Casa Grande Sam’s Clubs will all be shutting down.
Over the last two years, in addition to these 63 ill-fated Sam’s Club locations, Walmart has eliminated an estimated 30,000 jobs and closed more than 170 stores nationwide. Not only is this recent history a frightening insight, it begs surviving Walmart employees — and their communities — to ask: Are we next?
In fact, showing a complete disregard for its employees, using our tax dollars to subsidize its operations, and turning its back on communities is the Walmart model, which too often, goes like this:
Walmart’s low pay forces countless workers onto government assistance. Even though Walmart profited $14.6 billion in 2016, a number of Walmart and Sam’s Club locations receive additional tax subsidies from some state and local governments. Between 2013 and 2016 alone, Walmart and Sam’s Club subsidies were valued at an average of more than $43 million. This misuse of taxpayers and workers would be bad enough, but it gets worse once Walmart decides to pull out of a town.
Once Walmart leaves town it often devastates local economies by not only destroying jobs, but by destroying the tax base. On average, a typical Sam’s Club will contribute millions to local tax coffers. Yet, once a Walmart or Sam’s Club store closes, the company never repays the tax subsidies or local resources it has drained. The Sam’s Club store in Romeoville, IL for example, was benefiting from a tax subsidy initially valued up to $4.5 million and still shut its doors on January 26th.
The Walmart model of turning its back on employees, their families, and using local taxpayer-funded resources would be easier to ignore if it wasn’t happening here in our state. Now it is the good people of Arizona who must pay the price for Walmart’s greed and indifference.
How much of the cost will Arizona taxpayers pay? Our analysis suggests Arizona could lose 568 jobs statewide, including 129 in Scottsdale, 150 in Chandler, 152 in Casa Grande, and 137 in Prescott Valley.
In most of these communities, Walmart will expect you to ignore these facts and encourage you to shop at another local Sam’s Club or Walmart store. For the sake of standing up for what is right, it’s time we all start using our hard-earned dollars to value corporations that value us, our community and workers, not corporations who value only greed.
If you believe none of this really matters, then just think how would you react if you showed up to work one day and the door was locked. That may be the Walmart model, but it doesn’t have to be the model for America or Arizona.