Walmart greeter John Combs works at a Walmart store in Vancouver, Wash., April 21, 201
UNITED STATES (AP) – Walmart ended more than a week's worth of poor publicity before publishing that it was "best possible" to find one role for disabled workers who had been threatened with job loss as the dealer gets rid of greeters at 1000 stores.
In a fierce setback, Greg Foran, president and CEO of Walmart's US stores, said in a note to save executives Thursday night that "we take some concrete steps to support" greeters with disabilities. The chain noted that several greeters were offered new jobs at their respective stores and accepted.
Parents of the disabled said Walmart does the right move.
"By reconsidering its action, Walmart is now opening the door to actually helping individuals realize their full employment potential " said Cheryl Bates-Harris, senior disability advocacy expert on the Network of National Disability Rights.
Walmart told greeters around the country last week that their posts were eliminated late April in favor of an extended "customer hosting" role involving not only welcoming customers, but also helped with returns, checking receipts to prevent store lifting and Keep the front of the store clean. The position requires the hosts to lift heavy roads, climb ladders and do other tasks.
People with disabilities who have traditionally filled greeter jobs in many stores, accused Walmart of acting heartlessly. Rebellion customers and others started online petitions, formed Facebook support groups and called and sent Walmart offices in Bentonville, Arkansas, to record their dissatisfaction.
"This was a great-league botch," said Craig Johnson, president of Growth Partners, a retail consulting, adding that Walmart should have predicted public reaction.
"Someone finally woke up," Johnson said. "Hopefully they have now woken up and they will fix this thing properly. … The good news is that it is reversible."
For his part, Walmart said that Foran's memo did not signal a change of direction for the company, but was intended to reinforce what was already done for workers displaced from the greeter job and clean up misunderstandings.
In front of the recognized change from greeter to host, and its influence on disabled workers, "had created a conversation." He wrote that Walmart was obliged to do the right thing for these employees and noticed that greeters with disabilities would be given longer than the usual 60 days to find other jobs in the company.
"Let me be clear: If anyone in this unique situation will continue to work at Walmart, we should do everything possible to make it happen," notes the note released by Walmart.
Walmart has already started making job offers for greeters. At least three long-term greeters – Adam Catlin of Selinsgrove, Pennsylvania, Jay Melton of Marion, North Carolina, and Mitchell Hartzell of Hazel Green, Florida, all of whom have cerebral palsy – have accepted jobs in the box office.
Catlin's mother, Holly Catlin, helped publicize his son's situation with a passionate Facebook post and has since told the greeters around the country. After sending email to Walmart CEO Doug McMillon every day, Catlin received a phone call from the office on Thursday, and on Friday morning she and her son met their business management in Selinsgrove.
"I decided I should be the squeaky wheel and beep every day," said Catlin, and let her encourage Walmart's latest moves. "I think the way forward will be good for these people. I think they really should make an effort and try to keep these people."
In North Carolina, Melton is "happier than a pig in a mud pool," said father Jim Melton .
In front, who leads Walmart's American stores, wrote that greeters with disabilities "face a unique situation … and each case requires a thoughtful solution." He said Walmart's goal is to provide "appropriate accommodation that allows these staff to continue in other roles with their store."
Posted by MICHAEL RUBINKAM, Associated Press.
Twitter: @StGnews  Copyright 2019 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material cannot be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.