PLAINFIELD, Ind. — The Walmart Fulfillment Center that was devastated by fire in Plainfield last month will be permanently closed, potentially costing over 1,000 employees their job.
The facility employed 2,089 employees at the time of the March 16 fire, including about 1,000 who were in the building when the fire broke out. All were able to get out safely.
Walmart offered a paid job search period while connecting employees with other jobs. The company paid employees for 40 hours, plus overtime, after the fire and held a job fair in late March to help the workers locate a new job. Those who were placed in new roles got to keep their current pay base, plus benefits, through April 2023.
In a letter informing the Department of Workforce Development of the closure of the Plainfield facility "for the forseeable future," Walmart said 957 of the 2,089 employees at the fulfillment center have accepted new jobs at Walmart, but over 1,100 still have not.
Any employees who don't find a new role with Walmart past the paid search period will be "separated from the company." For hourly workers, the paid search period will end on July 1, 2022. For salaried employees, the period ends on July 15, 2022.
Walmart expects the separations with those employees to be permanent, noting "there is no union representative, recall or bumping rights." The company did say that employees who are separated can apply for open positions at other Walmart or Sam's Club locations.
The letter also said that Walmart is providing employees with means of support including access to the Associate Support Center, the career portal, plus benefits information and other resources.
Walmart shared the following statement with 13News Monday evening:
"We’re pleased more than 950 associates impacted by the IND1 fire have already selected base-pay-protected roles within the company. We’d like the remaining associates to continue their careers with the Walmart family by transferring to roles within other facilities, including those opening in the near future.
We’ll continue providing resources to associates and directly engage with those seeking employment, as they look to make the right decision for themselves and for their families."
Andrew Klinger, Plainfield's town manager issued the following statement to 13News in response to the closure. It reads in part:
We are aware that Walmart continues to assist employees and has offered many relocation options, including other Walmart operations in Plainfield.
For those that do not accept relocation options, we continue to encourage them to consider many other distribution operations that have similar roles and openings throughout our major business parks in Plainfield. Job seekers looking for job and career assistance are encouraged to reach out to a WorkOne Office (the local office is at 1610 Reeves Road in the MADE@Plainfield facility) for job and career assistance.