Walmart Warehouse Workers Strike In California

Walmart Warehouse Workers Strike In California

by
Amy Traub

From Demos' Policy Shop blog:

Here’s one especially for the folks who, while vehemently attacking the Chicago teachers’ strike, insist that they generally love and support organized labor.  Warehouse employees in southern California would greatly benefit from your outpouring of solidarity. Today, as they begin a 50-mile march  from Inland Empire warehouses to Downtown Los Angeles, they could use everyone’s support.

Yesterday about three dozen employees of a Southern California warehouse that stores goods for Walmart walked out on strike.  According to their organization, Warehouse Workers United:

Workers face inadequate access to clean water, work under scorching heat that reaches well over 100 degrees, and have little access to basic healthcare, regular breaks, and properly functioning equipment. Their wages are low –$8 per hour and $250 a week, or $12,000 per year. Workplace injury is common.

But when workers tried to offer solutions to fix these abuses, they have been met with illegal threats and intimidation by management.

Because of this intimidation, the fragmented nature of their employment, and the failure of the nation’s labor laws to protect the right to organize, workers have not been able to join a formal union, and their many charges of unfair labor practices are still pending before The National Labor Relations Board. Nevertheless, they bravely walked off the job and will march today joined by clergy members and labor leaders.

Formally, the workers are employed by warehouse and logistics firm NFI Industries and by temp agencies. But power over their wages and working conditions is really held by the company whose goods they store and move: Walmart. As the nation’s (and the world’s) biggest retailer, Walmart sets the standard for how subcontractors operate. As the National Employment Law Project documented  in a recent report, Walmart “bears direct ties to and control over the subcontractors and third-party employers that handle much of the company’s domestically outsourced work” and could put an end to the health, safety, and wage abuses that have become more prevalent as it outsources warehouse and distribution functions.

Supporters of the strike and march are asked to sign on to a letter to Walmart’s CEO, Executives, and Board of Directors asking them to meet directly with the workers to discuss working conditions.

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