‘Every Day Is Frightening’: Working For Walmart Amid Covid-19 Lockdown
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As the coronavirus pandemic has escalated, so has the anxiety of low-wage workers in the stores that have become its epicenter.
In interviews with two dozen workers and advocates across the country, we hear workers are going to the stores to get necessities not ordered online, or are waiting hours on end in the checkout line because they cannot bring work home. Others, for fear of spreading their infection, don’t wear gloves and masks.
“At least I have a job,” says one Walmart shopper in Arkansas. “I’m living paycheck to paycheck without insurance. If this keeps going on, I’ll lose my job and have nothing.”
In many stores, workers are not allowed to enter the building unless they have a face mask.
“My boss says they’re taking precautions, but I’m not allowed to go to the store,” the Arkansas employee says.
In Texas, a woman who works in a food processing plant on the outskirts of Dallas says she can’t even go to the store because she is afraid she will get infected.
“I can’t go into the store,” she says. “I’m not supposed to be out on the floor. It would be like a death sentence.”
The company is not sharing information about the situation on its corporate site or on its customer support phone line, the Huffington Post reports.
The workers say working in stores is their only option to make ends meet.
In many other cases, store shoppers are forced to go to other stores where they see the same products. Walmart says it has implemented new procedures designed to avoid customers getting sick and “allow our associates the ability to protect themselves and perform their roles as safely as possible while helping keep our associates on the job.”
The company’s president, Doug McMillon, told the Associated Press that the company is “going into all corners of the store to ensure we don’t put associates at risk.”
The Associated Press reports that the company has sent managers into grocery stores in New York City and in the Baltimore area to check if employees are wearing protective equipment. So far, the company has said, all the stores are