Linden Sam’s Club closes, displacing 200 workers

Photo by Rebecca Panico
The Sam’s Club on East Linden Avenue in Linden was one of three Walmart-owned big box retail outlets located within New Jersey abrubtly closed by the Arkansas-based company on Jan. 4.

LINDEN, NJ — The big box retail store Sam’s Club on East Linden Avenue abruptly closed Jan. 4, displacing about 200 employees and spurring responses from multiple officials in Union County.

“It is with great saddest (sic) that we are losing one of our box clubs in the area as well as the displacement of so many employees,” Mayor Derek Armstead said in a statement. “To address this issue we will be sponsoring a job fair Jan. 22, through our Linden First employment program along with Sam’s Club and other businesses to assist the displaced employees.”

The job fair will be held from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Multi-Purpose Center located at 1025 John Street.
About 11,000 employees were to be affected nationwide as the company confirmed news of 63 store closures. There are about 650 stores in the United States and Puerto Rico and the company brought in $57 billion in revenue last year, according to the company’s website.

The parent company of Sam’s Club is Walmart. The same day the ax came down on dozens of Sam’s Clubs locations, Walmart CEO Doug McMillon announced that the starting wage in February would increase to $11 per hour for employees of Walmart and Sam’s Club. The announcement was attributed to the congressional tax reform legislation signed into law by President Donald Trump in December.
Sam’s Club President and CEO John Furner released a statement about the recent closures Jan. 11.

“Transforming our business means managing our real estate portfolio, and Walmart needs a strong fleet of Sam’s Clubs that are fit for the future,” Furner said. “We know this is difficult news for our associates and we are working to place as many of them as possible at nearby locations. Our focus today has been on those associates and their communities, and communicating with them.”

At least two other Sam’s Clubs in New Jersey closed last week, including locations in Mount Olive and West Windsor.
The company will convert up to 12 of the 63 impacted clubs to e-commerce fulfillment centers in the next few weeks in order to speed up online order deliveries, according to a Sam’s Club press release. Walmart will provide resources to affected Sam’s Clubs employees, including 60 days of pay and severance to those eligible.

Other local officials are also stepping in to help impacted Sam’s Club employees. The Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders on Jan. 11 reminded said assistance is available to workers seeking employment.

“We offer our sympathies to our residents who were laid off by this abrupt and unexpected closing,” freeholders Sergio Granados and Christopher Hudak said in a joint statement. “We would like these former employees to know that the county stands prepared to immediately assist with employment services through our various agencies, and we urge all to take advantage of them.”

The Workforce Innovation Center, based at the Elizabeth campus of Union County College, provides job placement services, soft skills training and English as a second language education. Weekly local job opportunities are also posted on the county website at www.ucnj.org/wdb/job-fairs-and-opportunities.

The Union County One-Stop Career Centers, located in Elizabeth and Plainfield, provide career counseling, training and career advancement services for residents. For more information, call the Elizabeth location at 908-558-8000 or the Plainfield location at 908-757-9090.
Customers affected by the closures were encouraged by the company to visit one of the seven other remaining stores in the state. The company also provided a membership cancellation link at www.samsclub.com/sams/html/best-deals/update. html?xid=vanity:updatemembership.

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