INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Walmart is now vowing to support its disabled workforce following backlash over the company’s plans to eliminate “people greeters” at many of its stores.
Earlier this week, company officials that revealed greeters would be replaced with “customer hosts” at 1000 store locations. Unlike the role of greeter, customer hosts are expected to have a more physically demanding job, requiring them to do things such as stand for long periods of time, climb ladders or lift 25-pound packages.
The affected greeter positions are expected to be eliminated by April 26.
Many of Walmart’s greeter positions are held by senior citizens or those with disabilities.
Advocates like Kim Dodson with The Arc of Indiana say the move could force those with disabilities in those roles to give up their job.
“It’s just really hard to believe that they would think that something that is such a good community fit is something that they want to be moving away from,” Dodson said.
Dodson added that many people with disabilities in the greeter role rely on that job, not only for money, but for sense of freedom and community.
“This is a job that people seemed to really enjoy, both the person doing the job and quite frankly the customers of Walmart,” she said.
Those within the Indiana disabled community who work as greeters say the news concerns them.
Bonnie Hasemeyer, who’s been a greeter for 20 years, says she hasn’t heard anything about her position being removed or changed, but added that the thought of losing her job would be hard to handle.
“I don’t know what I would do if it did die… I’m so used to being with people that it isn’t funny,” Hasemeyer said.
In response to the growing criticism, Walmart president and CEO Greg Foran issued a statement where he said the company is taking “specific steps” to address the concerns of the disabled community.
The statement read in part:
“With that in mind, for associates with disabilities impacted by the changes to the Greeter position, we have extended the current 60-day transition period while we explore the circumstances and potential accommodations that will make sense for each person.
Let me be clear: If any associate in this unique situation wants to continue working at Walmart, we should make every effort to make that happen.”
You can read the full statement here.