Linden Sam’s Club is one of 63 to close

Employees showing up for work at the Linden Sam’s Club, the membership warehouse owned by retail giant Walmart, learned that the store is one of 63 across the nation that are unexpectedly shutting down or converting to regional distribution centers to help fill online orders.

Linden Mayor Derek Armstead went to the store location to meet with the regional and district managers after he received a letter about the closing early Thursday.

The letter from Steve Orloski, Sam’s Club market manager, was sent to Armstead and James Manning, of the New Jersey Department and Workforce Development.

Armstead said the city will address the issue by holding a job fair from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Jan. 22 at the Linden Multi Purpose Center, 1025 John Street, sponsored through the Linden First employment program in conjunction with other local businesses.

Nearly 11,000 workers will lose their jobs as a result of the closings, which coincide with celebration over the new lower corporate tax rate, which led Ivanka Trump to tweet that “America is on a roll,” and prompted Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin ro thank Walmart from the White House briefing room.

The Sam’s Club closures were confirmed the same day Walmart announced it is raising its starting hourly wage from $9 to $11 and the company said it would give out bonuses of up to $1,000.

Displaced workers may contact the Union County Workforce Innovation Business Center, an employment and skills training center, at Union County College Kellogg Building, 5th Floor, 40 W. Jersey St., Elizabeth. Call 908-965-2992.

Workers can contact the Union County American Job Centers, at 921 Elizabeth Ave. in Elizabeth, and 200 W. Second St. in Plainfield. They may also be reached by calling 908-558-8000 or 908-757-9090.

In a letter to staff, Sam’s Club President and CEO John Furner said that some stores were hindering business at other locations or operating in areas that had not seen the population growth that was expected.

“We’ve decided to right-size our fleet and better align our locations with our strategy,” Furner wrote. “We will be closing some clubs, and we notified them today. We’ll convert some of them into eCommerce fulfillment centers — to better serve the growing number of members shopping with us online and continue scaling the business.”

Employees arriving for work Thursday at the Sam’s Club warehouse store in Linden learned that the store was closed.

“It’s shocking,” said Union County Freeholder Christopher Hudak, a Linden resident, adding that the Sam’s Club website no longer lists the Linden store on East Linden Avenue that has been open for at least seven years.

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