Independent Probe Confirms Forced Labor at Walmart
On June 20, 2012, the Worker Rights Consortium, an independent investigative agency, released findings of “systematic violations of labor law and grossly inhumane treatment” of H-2B guestworkers by a Walmart seafood supplier in Louisiana called C.J.’s Seafood. A week after Walmart attempted a cover-up of forced labor at its supplier C.J.’s Seafood, one of America’s top labor rights watchdogs has found conditions there that they say “rival any sweatshop in China or Bangladesh.” Walmart had agreed to open a similar investigation, but nothing has resulted from it so far.
"Forced labor is unacceptable anywhere," said Saket Soni, executive director of the National Guestworkers Alliance. "But this is Louisiana, a two-hour flight from Walmart’s corporate headquarters. And this is a supplier than sells 85% of its product to Walmart—meaning Walmart is profiting from forced labor in America, and it’s keeping the perpetrator in business."
Walmart refused to meet with the workers who exposed the forced labor, so the workers came to Walmart. All day yesterday they sought meetings with Walmart board member Michelle Burns at her New York City offices. They delivered 122,000 petitions to her skyscraper penthouse. They sought a meeting with another Walmart board member Chris Williams, but were turned down again. They went to Washington, DC to tell members of Congress how Walmart is profiting from forced labor in Louisiana, and how the man Walmart keeps in business forced them to for 15-24 hours straight, illegally underpaid them, threatened them and their families with violence, and then demanded that they take care of his children for free while he and his wife went to a casino.
Walmart claims to hold all its suppliers to the highest standards, all around the world. Now that we’ve seen how Walmart responds to forced labor in its own backyard, its big promises don’t even pass the laugh test.
Just yesterday, Al Sharpton spoke out in solidarity with the workers saying, "The National Action Network supports fair labor standards and supports these workers’ demand that the situation at CJ’s Seafood be fully investigated and that the company comply with all laws applicable to the guest worker program."
Workers are continuing their struggle to get a meeting with Walmart demanding that they:
1. Cancel its contract with C.J.’s Seafood to show that it won’t profit from forced labor in Louisiana.
2. Sit down with us, the striking workers, immediately as a first step toward a real investigation — rather than a cover-up.
3. Sign the NGA’s Guestworker Dignity Standards to prevent forced labor and guarantee civil and labor rights for guestworkers across the Walmart supply chain.