- Walmart confirmed to Business Insider that it sent an audio message to its truck drivers on March 4 with advice on how to conduct business amid coronavirus concerns.
- Joe Metzger, who is senior vice president of supply chain at Walmart, advised truckers to purchase any needed sanitary supplies with their company cards, along with other preventative measures communicated in a February 28 memo to all Walmart US employees.
- The Walmart executive contacted drivers in the days after Business Insider reported that Walmart truckers, as well as contract and company drivers at Amazon, said they had not received information on how to navigate coronavirus on the road.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
A Walmart executive sent an audio message to the mega-retailer’s trucking fleet on March 4 about how to navigate coronavirus, the company confirmed to Business Insider.
In the audio recording, Joe Metzger, who is senior vice president of supply chain at Walmart, repeated the points mentioned in a February 28 memo that all of Walmart’s 1.5 million US employees received.
“Stay home when you are sick,” the memo said. “Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.”
Despite the distribution of that memo, Walmart truck drivers told Business Insider this week that their employer had not communicated with them about coronavirus.
“We haven’t heard anything from anybody,” one truck driver for Walmart, who did not want his name published for fear of retribution, told Business Insider on March 2.
“I’m not too concerned about it,” the driver added. “I police myself with washing my hands, not shaking as many hands, using hand sanitizer.”
Days after that story was published, truck drivers said they received the voice memo from Metzger. He advised truckers to buy any necessary cleaning supplies using their company cards.
“This is one way we share information with our drivers,” a Walmart spokesperson told Business Insider. “This audio message included information from the last week’s memo that was sent to all US associates, including our truck drivers.”
One truck driver noted that he received Lysol wipes on Tuesday morning. The Walmart spokesperson said these wipes have long been part of the standard cleaning kit in the tractors. “We are working to ensure drivers continue to have access to their cleaning wipes,” the spokesperson added.
Walmart truck drivers are among the best-paid in the industry. The retailer employs 9,000 truck drivers in the US, and their median salary is $90,000 — nearly twice the national median.
It’s also notoriously difficult to become a Walmart trucker; some have compared the training process to getting into Harvard.
Walmart has been adding more and more truckers to its “Elite Fleet” in recent years. Greg Smith, executive vice president of supply chain for Walmart US, told Business Insider last year that relying more on its well-paid, in-house fleet helps avoid issues that using outside trucking companies bring — like high turnover.
“Based on some of the efficiency that our teams have driven in our fleet, our fleet is now more competitive, and it has a better level of service in a lot of cases than we have with third parties,” Smith said.