walmart closures 150415 Back in the middle of April, Walmart gave employees five-hours notice that stores in Pico Rivera, California; Tulsa, Oklahoma; Brandon, Florida; and Midland and Livingston, Texas would close for six months. Walmart said the closings were necessary to deal with plumbing problems. Walmart builds new stores in less than six months. No one bought the story. Over the years I have called Walmart acquisitive, rapacious, avaricious and flat-out evil, but I have not accused the company of stupidity. Walmart loses thousands (tens of thousands) of dollars every second that a store is not open. Walmart does not leave money on the table. If we accept for a moment that five stores, in four different states, simultaneously developed plumbing problems a reasonable person would expect Walmart to draw up plans, obtain permits and schedule work crews to deal with the problems before closing the stores. A reasonable person would expect Walmart to arrange, where ever possible, to close portions of the effected stores so that some commerce might continue. Further A reasonable person would also expect Walmart to have contractors working around the clock, seven days a week until the stores were ready to be reopened. None of the above happened. This lead to a flurry of conspiracy theories about an annual military exercise---tagged Jade Helm 15, this year---that no one paid any attention to until 2015. The Internet has been all agog since mid-April and YouTube is clogged with videos that are both riotously hilarious and deeply disturbing. On Monday, a check of city records showed that finally permits have been pulled for plumbing repairs at the Midland store. In addition, Walmart intends to repair the roof, but said that no permits were necessary for that work. Back in the '80s I freelanced for a magazine covering the roofing industry, and I suppose Texas building codes could be this lax, but I have a hard time believing that any commercial roofing work could be done without permits. I continue to think that the most likely reason for the closings is to send a message to workers even thinking about joining a union that Walmart will close their store in a heart beat and send them packing. 15 April backfill: HAS WALMART BEATEN THE UNIONS…? Jeff Hess: Have Coffee Will Write.

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