‘Every Day Is Frightening’: Working For Walmart Amid Covid-19 Lockdowns
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Every day is terrifying, but working for Walmart amid COVID-19 lockdowns is a nightmare.
“I would be scared to wake up in the morning and go to work,” says Mark Wieczorek. He’s the Walmart associate who started a group on Facebook. On Tuesday, he was among those sharing a list of stores that closed overnight in the wake of the coronavirus. He had called them all but the one on the list, which he had already found out about in the past 24 hours.
“It’s scary, because I’ve never worked in a situation like this before. I’ve never had to be brave enough to ask for a raise or a raise for the second time in my life,” Wieczorek says. “I think that shows just how hard it is.”
Walmart has been on an aggressive recruitment drive, hiring hundreds of associates to replace those who have been laid off in the wake of the virus. The number of associate layoffs has surged to over 400, and at least 800 more associates are expected to lose their jobs next month.
So, what does Wieczorek do? He stays home. He takes the kids to the playground, even though his neighborhood in Kansas, like much of the country, has the highest coronavirus infection rate in the country. He stays by the phone, waiting for a rep to call with an opening in the store in the afternoon or evening.
The retail giant has started to send its stores out of state and into smaller towns, hoping to lessen the impact of the virus. But it seems like Walmart is also trying to outsource its worst-case scenario.
“We’ve closed our brick-and-mortar locations because we’re worried about being here ourselves,” a Walmart spokesperson tells NPR. “We can’t predict the future.”