Walmart Opposes New York's Panic Button Law for Retail Worker Safety

By Madz Dizon

Jun 09, 2024 06:30 AM EDT

Walmart Opposes New York's Panic Button Law for Retail Worker Safety
Shoppers wait in line to pay for their purchases at a Walmart store in Los Angeles, California on November 24, 2009, a few days before Black Friday the day after Thanksgiving which kicks off the holiday shopping season.
(Photo : ROBYN BECK/AFP via Getty Images)

Walmart has expressed its opposition to the implementation of panic buttons in stores, which is a requirement proposed by the New York legislature as part of a new law to ensure the safety of retail workers.

NY Senate Approves Panic Button Law for Retail Safety

On Friday (June 7), the New York State Senate approved a new legislation requiring major retail chains, such as Walmart, to install panic buttons in their New York stores. 

These panic buttons will be easily accessible to employees and can also be activated through wearable devices or mobile phones to quickly summon emergency services.

The law, in response to the increasing dangers faced by store clerks due to thefts and violence, has already been approved by the state's Assembly and is now awaiting Governor Kathy Hochul's signature. 

According to Reuters, the law has faced criticism from retail groups due to the potential high cost of installing panic buttons.

Walmart's top corporate affairs officer said the company is against the panic button idea due to concerns about potential false alarms.

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Walmart Exec Deems Nationwide Panic Buttons Infeasible

Dan Bartlett, an executive at Walmart, stated that it would not be feasible for the company to install panic buttons in all of its stores.  Walmart, the largest retailer in the nation, operates a whopping 4,700 stores, with 98 of them located in New York state.

New York Governor Kathy Hochul has a 10-day window to either sign the legislation into law or veto it. If no action is taken within 10 days, the Retail Worker Safety Act will automatically become state law, Economic Times reported.

The legislation would also mandate that most retailers with 10 or more employees offer violence prevention and safety training to their staff.

Walmart's workforce remains non-unionized. On the other hand, the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU), a prominent retail union with over 100,000 workers nationwide, has been advocating for the bill to be passed in New York.

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