Nike has temporarily closed one of its Memphis distribution facilities after a warehouse employee tested positively for COVID-19.
Nike confirmed the temporary closure to The Commercial Appeal in an email Saturday.
The center opened at at 6 a.m. Sunday. During the closure, Nike conducted “a comprehensive disinfection process.”
Nike did not confirm which facility was closed.
According to MLK50, which first reported the story Friday, the closed facility is Nike’s North American Logistic Campus in Frayser. MLK50 reported that the facility closed Thursday afternoon.
Nike told The Commercial Appeal that during the closure period, “we will pay our employees who have altered schedules and will pay based on standard hours.”
Beginning March 16, Nike closed retail locations across the world. Customers can still make purchases online, according to the release.
When reached by phone Saturday, Willie Gregory, director of Global Community Impact for Nike and chairman of the Greater Memphis Chamber, directed inquiries to Nike’s corporate media relations.
The Frayser facility first opened in June 2015. At the time, it was the company’s largest distribution center in North America, The Commercial Appeal reported.
Political officials and executives spoke at the opening event, including then-Governor Bill Haslam and Eric Sprunk, Nike’s chief operating officer.
At the opening in 2015, the 2.8-million-square-foot facility employed 1,900 people. The space was built to process as many as 271 million units per year and consolidated footwear, apparel and equipment into one space, The Commercial Appeal reported.
“As we grow, NALC Memphis will play a critical role in the evolution of our brand,” Sprunk said at the 2015 opening. Nike opened its first distribution center in Memphis in 1982, Sprunk said.
The Memphis Business Journal reports that Nike now employs around 3,200 people in jobs across the Memphis metropolitan area.
Nearly 15% of the Memphis metropolitan workforce is employed in the transportation and materials moving sector, which include warehouse jobs, according to the latest data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Nationwide, the sector represents 7% of total employment.
Across the country, health and safety concerns related to COVID-19 have prompted warehouse workers and others to demand improved working conditions, with some going on strike.
In Memphis, workers at a Kroger warehouse demanded raises and improved safety conditions upon learning that an employee tested positive for COVID-19 on March 26. A second employee has since tested positive.
Kroger granted its 460,000 workers across the country a $2 per hour hazard pay raise through mid-April on Wednesday.
Nike’s statement is in full below. Nike did not immediately respond when asked how many workers are employed at the unnamed closed facility and whether the employee was symptomatic while at work.
“The health and safety of our team is always our first priority. We have temporarily closed one of our Memphis, TN, distribution facilities. During this period, we will be conducting a comprehensive disinfection process. We are targeting to reopen the facility tomorrow at 6 a.m. Sunday, April 5. During this period, while our facility is closed, we will pay our employees who have altered schedules and will pay based on standard hours.”
Laura Testino covers education and children’s issues for the Commercial Appeal. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org or 901-512-3763. Find her on Twitter: @LDTestino
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