Bloomberg investigated how PetSmart employees have been reporting unsafe conditions throughout the pandemic, including shortages of personal protective equipment and their lack of paid sick leave.
Bloomberg, September 30, 2021: PetSmart Investors Prodded by Labor Group Over Worker Safety
Retail worker group United for Respect documented these problems in a report it sent recently to investors with private equity firm BC Partners entitled “Greed Unleashed: PetSmart, BC Partners, and what happens when private equity preys on workers and pets.” The report asks for help securing hazard pay, better safety protocols, paid time off, severance benefits and a larger vaccination incentive for employees.
The report also cited a 2018 report by NJ.com that found a growing number of dog illnesses and deaths after the animals received services like grooming and boarding from the chain, and said additional deaths have occurred since.
“We all love animals and that’s why we work at PetSmart,” Adrian Valdes, a bather and stylist apprentice at PetSmart in Savannah, Georgia, said in an interview with Bloomberg. “But we’re not adequately trained for safety, and we’re so understaffed we’re doing three jobs at a time instead of one.”
BC Partners has more than adequate resources to address PetSmart employees’ concerns. The BC Partners-led ownership has taken at least $21 billion in cash and stock dividends from PetSmart and seen the value of its stake in PetSmart/Chewy nearly quadruple during the pandemic, based on filings by a member of that ownership group.
“There’s a dramatic difference between how little support workers have gotten compared to the vast amounts of money that BC Partners has taken out of PetSmart,” Private Equity Stakeholder Project executive director Jim Baker told Bloomberg.
It has been more than a year since Petsmart employees sent a letter alerting BC Partners to employee concerns across PetSmart stores. BC Partners has yet to respond or address the concerns raised in that letter.