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Walmart Closing Five Stores For 'Plumbing Problems'

And if you believe that, I have some swampland in New Jersey I'd like to sell you.

Just one of those coinky-dinks that seem to dog any Walmart stores that see union activity. Just another coincidence that the store has never applied for a plumbing permit, either! I'd love to hear them explain why all those laid-off workers have been told they will have to reapply after the "plumbing" is fixed:

Some employees accused Wal-Mart Stores Inc on Friday of closing a location in the Los Angeles area for six months in retaliation for workers demanding for better wages and benefits.

The largest U.S. retailer denied the accusation, saying it was temporarily closing five stores in four states to address recurring plumbing problems. The closures include a location in Pico Rivera, California, that has been a center of protests by workers in recent years.

A group of employees backed by the United Food and Commercial Workers Union described the move as "retaliatory" in a statement and said it would hold a news conference on Monday to lay out its case. Wal-Mart had not requested any city plumbing permits for the Pico Rivera store, the workers and city officials said.

Pico Rivera City Manager Rene Bobadilla described the sudden manner in which the company closed the store as "abnormal" but said the city had offered its help to expedite the work needed to be done to get the store open again.

Uh huh. Oddly enough, these exact same "plumbing problems" shut five Walmarts across the country last week. Even more strange is that not one of these locations has applied for plumbing permits.

Could it be the real plumbing problem is "Full of Shit Syndrome"?

At the Brandon, Fla., location, two plumbing technicians who have worked extensively in that store said they don't buy it, either.

"I've done a lot of maintenance work out there. I go out there and I unclog the drains, but there's been no major problems there. It's all been normal stuff that we do at every store," plumber Codi Bauer said in a WFLA-TV report.

Some skeptics say the company's official reason for the closures simply isn't believable. If plumbing was indeed the reason for the move, they ask, why then is Walmart forcing affected employees to find other jobs -- and making them re-apply for their old positions once the locations reopen?


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"I went to the meeting [Tuesday] morning, they would not give me an exact answer to anything," a laid-off worker in Tulsa said in a report by CBS affiliate KOTV-TV.

Another red flag, some say, is the fact that each of the stores seemed to be unusually well-prepared for the closures -- which would not be the case if abrupt plumbing problems triggered the sudden shutdowns.

"They had too many things in place," Florida worker Diane Hill told ABC 10 News in Tampa. "The higher-ups knew. It's us lower folks on the totem pole that didn't know."

Laid off workers from the Florida location also claimed to 10 News that Walmart instructed them not to speak to the press.

Commissioner Victor Crist, who represents the district in which the Florida Walmart closed, is also curious and has asked Walmart to see the plumbing problems it's referring to.

"I just find what's going on very odd," he said. "I am a little curious as to why permits have not been pulled. If you want to minimize downtime you do that by doing those things in advance."

Crist said Walmart has not yet responded to his request.

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