September 3, 2020
Good morning Chairman and members of the board. My name is Alex Ludwig and I have been a PetSmart Pet Care Associate for the last 3 years in San Antonio, Texas.
The Los Angeles Fire and Police Pensions invests money with BC Partners, the private equity firm that acquired PetSmart in 2015. As an investor in the company, I would like to share concerns my co-workers and I have about PetSmart’s insufficient COVID-19 response and to alert you to the devastating impact the company’s massive lay-offs have had on so many of my co-workers across the country.
As you are probably aware, PetSmart stores have continued to operate throughout the crisis in every state that has not explicitly prohibited the company from staying open. In April and May of this year, PetSmart temporarily furloughed and then permanently laid off employees across multiple locations causing them to lose their incomes and health insurance in the middle of an economically crippling pandemic. Despite these dire circumstances, the company did not provide severance pay to any of those laid off.
More so than ever, I value my job but I strongly believe BC Partners and Petsmart have a responsibility to keep everyone in the stores safe – employees, customers, and pets.
Unfortunately, I am here to tell you they are not doing that.
PetSmart employees like me have and continue to report hazardous working conditions including insufficient personal protective equipment, lax enforcement of social distancing guidelines, and a refusal to provide hazard pay to those of us who continue to work at great risk to ourselves and our loved ones.
In July current and former PetSmart employees asked BC Partners to prioritize our health and safety and to use its financial resources to minimize the economic hardship on us and our families caused by their mismanagement of PetSmart. BC Partners never responded and has done nothing to mitigate the negative impact its decisions have wrought on its employees.
Like, you, PetSmart employees have a shared interest in the long term health of our company. We value our jobs, we value our customers and their pets. But for us to succeed during the pandemic and beyond, we need to make sure the health, safety, and voice of essential workers is valued and not sacrificed for short-term gain.
I ask you to contact BC Partners and urge them to immediately address the serious health and safety issues my co-workers and I have raised and to establish a hardship fund for every employee terminated from March to May 2020. I also ask that you halt further investments with BC Partners until they publicly commit to adopt responsible labor practices for all of their portfolio companies, including a commitment to severance pay for any employees who lose their jobs as a result of a portfolio company restructuring or bankruptcy.
Thank you for your time.