Walmart says ‘goodbye’ to greeters and ‘hello’ to controversy
Walmart is eliminating the position of greeter at more than 1,000 stores and replacing it with customer hosts whose responsibilities will include added tasks such as making cart runs, cleaning up spills and being able to lift items that weigh up to 25 pounds. While employing people who can interact with customers and accomplish other tasks seems like a positive for Walmart, there is concern that the change will leave older workers and those with disabilities without jobs.
NPR reports that it has spoken with Walmart greeters in five states who expect to lose their jobs after April 25. One greeter, John Combs, who suffers from cerebral palsy and is confined to a wheelchair, said he was told that his job is being eliminated.
In Marion, NC, thousands of customers at the Walmart there started a petition to save the job of Jay Melton, another wheelchair bound greeter who suffers from cerebral palsy, reports WYFF News 4. Mr. Melton has worked at Walmart for 17 years.
In response to reports, Walmart said it would extend its deadline for workers with disabilities to find other jobs and that it would “explore the circumstances and potential accommodations, for each individual, that can be made within each store. This allows associates to continue their employment at the store as valued members of the team while we seek an acceptable, customized solution for all of those involved.”
This is not the first time that Walmart has gained attention for tinkering with its greeter position. In 2012, the retailer announced that it was moving greeters away from the store lobby and closer to cash registers where they could better assist shoppers. The chain also eliminated greeters from its late-night shifts at 24-hour stores.
In 2016, Walmart announced that it would move greeters back to the lobbies in about two-thirds of its locations after a pilot conducted by the chain found that having them present made customers feel more welcomed as they entered stores. At the same time, Walmart also announced that it was adding the new position of customer host to both greet people entering stores, but also to deter thieves from walking out with stolen merchandise.
- Walmart Is Eliminating Greeters. Workers With Disabilities Feel Targeted – NPR
- Thousands petition for Walmart greeter with cerebral palsy after job is eliminated in Western North Carolina – WYFF News 4
- Holy Smiley Face! Walmart brings back greeters – RetailWire
- Walmart Greeters Get New Assignment – RetailWire
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Will Walmart’s decision to extend the deadline for some greeters to find other jobs before their positions are eliminated be enough to address the controversy of putting disabled and elderly employees out of work?