Walmart Opposes New York Legislation Requiring Panic Buttons in Stores

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Walmart has challenged a new law enacted by the NYC Senate requiring big retail companies to have panic buttons.
Walmart has challenged a new law enacted by the NYC Senate requiring big retail companies to have panic buttons.

Retail giant Walmart has opposed a new law passed by the New York State Senate that requires big retail chains to install panic buttons in their stores.

The legislation, aimed at enhancing the safety of retail workers, has faced criticism from Walmart and other retail groups due to concerns about costs and potential false alarms.

Legislation Overview:

On Friday, the New York State Senate approved legislation mandating most large retail chains, including Walmart, to install panic buttons in their New York stores.

These buttons would be easily accessible to employees or provided as wearable devices or mobile-phone-activated systems that summon emergency services. This law, already passed by the state’s Assembly, awaits Governor Kathy Hochul’s signature.

Rationale Behind the Law:

The law responds to increasing threats to store clerks from thefts and violence. Retail workers have faced rising incidents of aggression, prompting lawmakers to seek measures to improve their safety.

The legislation also requires most retailers with ten or more employees to provide violence prevention and safety training to their staff.

Walmart Opposition:

Walmart’s executive vice president of corporate affairs, Dan Bartlett, opposed the panic button idea, citing concerns about false alarms.

“Eight out of 10 times somebody thinks something’s going on, there’s not,” Bartlett told Reuters. Walmart believes installing panic buttons may not be the most effective solution for enhancing store worker safety.

Retail Groups’ Criticism:

Retail groups have criticized the law, arguing that installing panic buttons would be costly and may not address the underlying issues effectively.

A group of retail industry lobbyists, including the National Retail Federation and the Food Industry Alliance of New York State, opposed the legislation in a letter, stating that the mandates would do little to deter shoplifting and assaults.

The New York Police Department Community Affairs Bureau has also expressed concerns about panic buttons. In a statement, they emphasized that phone calls to 911 are more effective as they provide responders with vital information that panic buttons do not.

Walmart Safety Measures:

In April, Walmart hired its first chief safety officer to evaluate and improve store worker safety. The company operates 4,700 stores nationwide, including 98 in New York state.

At Walmart’s recent annual meeting in Bentonville, Arkansas, shareholders voted down a proposal for an independent review of the company’s workplace safety and violence policies.

While Walmart is not unionized, the Retail, Wholesale, and Department Store Union, representing over 100,000 U.S. workers, has pushed the bill to become law in New York. The union believes panic buttons and safety training are essential for protecting retail workers.

James Adam

James Adam, a noted business writer for CEO Times Magazine, specializes in insightful industry analysis and executive profiles. Known for his clear, concise style, James offers readers an expert perspective on global business trends and market dynamics.

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