In Growing Trend, Warehouse Workers Bypass Floor Bosses to Demand Action from Walmart 1%
Striking warehouse workers in Southern California and outside of Chicago in Elwood, Illinois went to the offices and/or home of Walmart’s senior executives and board members calling on them to take responsibility for the poor working conditions and unfair labor practices the workers endure in warehouses dedicated to moving and transporting Walmart goods and merchandise.
“Walmart claims it holds its contractors and suppliers to the highest standards and expects them to comply with the law, but when we speak out about it, we get retaliated against and Walmart ignores us,” said David Garcia, a striking warehouse worker and father of two, who although has worked for six years at the same warehouse is still only considered a “temporary” worker because of how the industry outsources and operates with temp agencies.
This supports what appears to be a growing trend of large corporations to increase the numbers of contingent workers, both direct and throughout their supply/distribution chains.
In Southern California, the workers—who do not have a recognized union—walked off the job September 12th to call for an end to retaliation and unfair labor practices committed by their employers, NFI and Warestaff, a staffing agency. [For more on a ULP strike, click here.] The warehouse workers launched a 50-mile pilgrimage to bring to light the working conditions that include: inadequate access to clean water, scorching heat that reaches well over 100 degrees, and little access to basic healthcare, no regular breaks for heat, and a lack of properly functioning equipment. Their wages are low –$8 per hour and $250 a week, or $12,000 per year. Workplace injury is common.
Three days later, warehouse workers in Chicago-suburb Elwood, Illinois also went on strike when workers were retaliated against for speaking out against labor abuses.
In Silicon Valley, warehouse workers and Walmart retail associates went to Walmart board member, and Rob Walton’s son-in-law Greg Penner’s house. The workers had been ignored after previous requests to meet. “When we spoke out to change terrible working conditions, workers were suspended, demoted and even fired. They spied on us and bullied us, all because we are fighting for dignity,” said Limber Herrera, a warehouse worker for four years in Mira Loma, Calif.
Workers and the communities they live in are starting to demand action from the 1% truly responsible for their daily conditions. Walmart and the Walton family have long been accused of squeezing suppliers and contractors, forcing them to cut costs in order to maximize profits for the company. Warehouse workers in Chicago released a flowchart describing how Walmart is their “real boss”. While they have good policies on paper, seafood guestworkers proved earlier this year that they turn a blind eye to forced labor on their supply chain.