The retail giant’s Terrace location will be “100% self-service” by the end of the summer, a Walmart spokesperson said in an email.
“Our customers have embraced self-service checkouts as they have rolled out across the country over the past few years. Our Terrace customers, in particular, use self-checkout in large numbers, which is one of the reasons the store was selected for the test.
This change, according to Walmart, is part of a test project and won’t cost anyone their labor.
“Over the years, we’ve heard concerns that automatic checkouts are impacting jobs, but that’s just not the case,” the statement continued, adding that the terrace store is currently hiring for more. 40 posts.
The leader of a provincial union representing grocery and retail workers said anxiety over possible job losses always accompanies news of increased automation.
“We are certainly concerned about the announcement that they are going to run a store without a cashier,” said Kim Novak, president of UFCW Local 1518.
“This is something that our members have been concerned about for some time as this type of technological change is impacting an already fairly precarious and part-time workforce. “
As a union, Novak says a key priority is negotiating contracts that include “technological change clauses” that ensure people are retrained and reassigned.
“At the end of the day, the fact that we are seeing racialized women and workers working primarily in these frontline industries – working as cashiers and in grocery and retail stores – these types of changes can really erode their access to work. », She explains.
“So we want to make sure that while we can’t stop the technology from evolving, it shouldn’t come at the expense of the workers who made these companies make as much money as they did.” over the past year, and for decades.
Novak says workers won’t be the only ones keeping tabs on the price of Walmart cashier-less stores.
“Whenever there is a technological change, all the other competitors are looking to see how it works,” she says.
Terrace Walmart employees aren’t members of UFCW 1518, but Novak says she’ll be careful – and hopes the company delivers.
“We hope that after more than 16 months of working on the front lines, these workers in these positions will not be adversely affected by this technological change,” she said.
“We hope to see that these jobs will change and that there will be opportunities for the people who work upstream to be able to work elsewhere.”
With files from Tamara Slobogean