‘Every Day Is Frightening’: Working For Walmart Amid Covid 19 Crisis
Enlarge this image toggle caption John Locher/AP John Locher/AP
At first, Walmart was a place on the edge. Today, it’s the No. 1 employer in this country, with a record of innovation and growth that has helped it amass half a trillion dollars in revenue in a short span of time.
It’s also a place where employees who were told they would be out of a job when the coronavirus pandemic began have now been told their jobs are still open.
“Everybody’s nervous, at Walmart, but we’re going to stay open and try to do the best job we can,” says Dawn Hawkins, who works the night shift in Walmart’s Minneapolis store.
Walmart has been the subject of many of the country’s popular memes. Its employees are known for their seemingly endless amounts of time in line at its stores. And every day, when news of the coronavirus scare began to spread, Walmart employees began to wonder if their days at the company could still be among the longest they’d ever have.
On April 2, Walmart told its employees it was shutting down its stores indefinitely because of COVID-19.
“Everyone at Walmart is sad,” says Hawkins. “It’s really not a life-or-death situation, but we are scared.”
So far, Walmart has kept all stores open. In Seattle, its manager sent out the employee e-mails to employees’ relatives to let them know the store would be open.
“It’s stressful,” says Mary Jane Naughton, who has been working the store’s evening shift. Naughton was told early on, “We can’t guarantee anything.” With employees worried that their jobs were coming to an end, Naughton and her coworkers were left to sort out the uncertainty together through e-mails and Zoom.
At the same time, Walmart has stayed true to its mission of empowering people by offering a flexible schedule to employees. One of the ways it