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Walmart Employees Meet To Discuss Sudden Closure Of Pico Rivera Store

ROSEMEAD ( — Employees of a Pico Rivera Walmart who recently learned the store was closing met Thursday with executives to discuss their jobs.

A group lined up around 8 a.m. in front of the Double Tree Hotel in Rosemead before they were called in one by one.

The store at 8500 Washington Boulevard was closed at 7 p.m. Monday due to chronic plumbing issues, leaving more than 530 employees without jobs.

"I have nothing but faith that we'll get transferred into different stores," employee Christy Soto said.

Walmart Director of Communications Delia Garcia said the maintenance work could last up to six months.

According to the company, employees will continue to receive regular pay and benefits for 60 days and also have the opportunity to transfer to another location or reapply for their jobs in Pico Rivera.

Seven-year Walmart worker Venanzi Luna says the Pico Rivera location has been a hotbed for worker activism and some are skeptical thinking the company may be targeting employees who have spoken out.

As a longtime member of the Organization United for Respect (OUR) at Walmart, a group funded by the Food Workers Union, Luna has led strikes and sit-ins to fight for higher wages.

"They think they got rid of the problem, but no we're still going to fight for what we believe in and what's right," Monique Velasquez said.

According to the company, the Pico Rivera store, which opened in 2002 and expanded in 2007, has needed a hundred repairs over the past two years.

"Our concern — it's a big hit. Not just to our residents who work there. They are a big sales-tax producer for us, so we are going to take a financial hit," City Manager Rene Bobadilla said.

Bobadilla added that he cannot make any speculation about the company's motives but that the city was blind-sided by the closure because they have not received any permit requests, which was unusual.

Speculating workers were planning to protest Thursday to demand the company guarantee the transfer of all impacted employees to the store nearest their home, provide compensation throughout the transfer process and then reinstate workers at the Pico Rivera store without an application process after the maintenance work was completed.

Organizers decided not to strike and focus on talking to the company leaders.

"How is it that they shut down the store two months before that raise is supposed to go in effect?" Luna said.

At least four other locations across the country closed their doors Monday citing similar issues.

OUR Walmart members from around the country have also begun outreach to the other laid off workers to provide them with support.

A rally has been scheduled to take place in front of the Pico Rivera store on Monday.

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