Yesterday WalMart closed over 60 stores nationwide, including the Sam’s Club in Budd Lake–just next door to us here in Sussex County. Late Wednesday, local employees received last-minute notification that there would be a staff meeting first thing Thursday morning, and then at that meeting they were blindsided by the announcement of immediate layoffs. About 140 people from right here in our area went to work expecting to do their jobs and earn their living as usual, but were instead told that their jobs were suddenly gone. They will at least be receiving some severance pay, but that kind of stopgap payment is hardly a substitute for the long-term earning opportunities they’ve lost. Some may be reassigned to other stores, but with the next-closest locations being in Edison and Seacaucus that means that even those who do get reassigned will likely be facing much longer commutes.
Watching jobs leave in droves and wasting lifetimes in traffic chasing after them is a far too familiar story for the people of our area.
To add insult to injury, while the Budd Lake employees were receiving this life-altering blow, WalMart’s been busy cheerfully announcing that they’re increasing their minimum wage to $11/hour and offering additional benefits including one-time bonuses. Since Trump’s tax reform passed at the end of last year, multiple companies have made a similar show out of giving these too-little-too-late increases and meager one-time payoffs in an attempt to trick the American people into thinking that the long-awaited “trickle” has finally come down. It hasn’t.
Please don’t be fooled. WalMart offset what they gave with what they took and in reality, the GOP’s recent tax cuts could make it more profitable than ever to lay people off.
These small one-time bonuses are nothing more than insulting bribes–mere drops in the bucket compared to what the companies behind them are getting for themselves out of these cuts. The rushed reforms the GOP has pushed through were never really designed with regular folks in mind, and now over 140 former employees and their families right here in Northwestern New Jersey in particular are feeling the sting of that harsh reality. Rather than bringing more jobs and greater prosperity to our area, our State and Local Tax Deductions have been cut back and jobs are still leaving–all while the profit margins of the wealthiest few continue to grow into obscenity and beyond.
If you or someone you know was one of the people who had their livelihoods so rudely ripped out from under them in Budd Lake yesterday, I just want to say that for whatever it’s worth–I’m sorry. I think you all deserve much better, and I hope that at the very least, all of the stress and anxiety you must be going through right now will ultimately lead to an even better opportunity at your next job. In the hope of helping you get there, our chapter is going to be collecting as many local job-seeking resources as we can find and sharing them on @SussexCountyNOW’s social feeds under #NWNJworks. Project Self-Sufficiency in Newton, for example, is a great place to start. They offer a wide variety of resources including assistance with writing cover letters and resumes, computer classes, and much more.
So keep an eye out in our feeds for #NWNJworks and more information! In the meantime, hang in there and be good to yourselves.
President of Sussex County NOW