Read

Search form

Walmart Workers Strike in California

Walmart Workers Strike in California
Fri, 11/16/2012 - by Dave Jamieson
This article originally appeared on Huffington Post

Photo: Occupy Riverwest

Workers at a Walmart-contracted warehouse in Southern California went on strike Wednesday to demand better conditions at their facility, according to Warehouse Workers United, a union-backed group representing the employees.

The walkout is apparently part of a broader strike expected to hit the Walmart supply chain in the run-up to the holiday shopping season, as workers and labor activists try to pressure the world's largest retailer into raising standards in both its stores and its contracted warehouses. Associates at Walmart stores have threatened to strike on Black Friday, potentially disrupting the megaretailer's plans for what is traditionally the biggest shopping day of the year.

The workers in Southern California are employed by a temporary labor agency called Warestaff, which contracts with a warehouse run by the logistics company NFI. Although none of the workers are employed directly by Walmart, the goods that pass through the NFI facility are destined for Walmart stores throughout the U.S.

Kathleen Hessert, a spokeswoman for NFI, disputed the scope of the strike. Hessert said the first shift of the day was only missing two workers, although Warehouse Workers United said two dozen workers from all shifts had joined them on a picket line and agreed not to work.

"[Warehouse Workers United] is distorting all the facts. This company is not what they're portraying them to be," Hessert said. "Workers are supposed to share with their supervisor any safety concerns they have whatsoever. If they're not happy with [the temp company], then there are lots of other means they can share their concerns."

David Garcia was among those protesting. He said he worked at the NFI facility for a year as a temp earning $8 an hour without benefits. Before being let go last month, Garcia was employed as a "lumper" -- someone who loads and unloads containers on the warehouse docks. He typically got around 30 hours per week, he said.

"I was promised a 90-day probation period when I started," Garcia told HuffPost. "It's been a year and they're not talking about me being hired [full-time], or getting any benefits, no raises, not even a promotion for me to start driving a forklift. I've got five kids and a wife to support and that’s really impossible with $8 dollars an hour."

Warehouse Workers United, which represents many workers in the Inland Empire area of California, said the facility's workers initially planned to walk out on Thursday but moved their strike up a day.

"More workers were getting called off of work," said Guadalupe Palma, a spokeswoman for Warehouse Workers United. "It's clear workers are being silenced because they called off the most active workers, the ones who've been speaking out on the health and safety problems. A group of them ... were told not to come in."

Warestaff did not respond to requests for comment.

Dan Fogleman, a Walmart spokesman, said the company has taken workers' allegations at the NFI facility seriously, doing announced and unannounced visits to investigate.

"We have spent the last several weeks developing protocols to have independent auditors inspect each of the dedicated third-party run facilities we utilize. We expect to begin these audits in a matter of days," Fogleman said. "We hold our service providers to high standards and remain committed to ensuring workers throughout our supply chain are treated with dignity and respect."

Warehouse workers at Walmart facilities in Southern California and the Joliet area of Illinois initially went on strike in September, complaining of faulty equipment, unsafe working conditions and low pay. Both regions are major shipping hubs for U.S. retailers bringing product into their stores. Although the warehouses do hold some good jobs, much of the work is done by low-paid temp employees who work on "piece rate" and don't have benefits like health coverage or sick days.

As HuffPost reported last year, the complicated contracting arrangements at many such warehouses lead to a lot of finger-pointing when it comes to workers' welfare. Injury and employee turnover rates are high, and many workers complain that they can't survive on the low pay and unreliable scheduling.

Garcia took part in the original strike at the warehouse in September.

"It's just basic things we're asking for," he said. "Working equipment, and dignity. We break our backs every day. With no health benefits, someone gets hurt here they're basically disposed of."

Add new comment

Sign Up

Article Tabs

map

More than 20 places around DC are opening up their doors to people attending the Women’s March

Inauguration Day

Some of the Inauguration Day Protests photos sent to us by our friends on the streets of DC.

The 142-mile-long Trans-Pecos Pipeline would bring fracked gas to the small border city of Presidio, where it would continue on into northern Mexico – in the process crossing under the Rio Grande, threatening fragile water supplies.

money in politics, corporate political class, Michael Gecan, community organizing, parallel political structures, Death of the Liberal Class, Industrial Areas Foundation, Donald Trump, Saul Alinsky, Ralph Nader, mass movements, popular movements

"People who understand power tend to have the patience to build a base, do the training, raise the money, so when they go into action they surprise people,” says community organizer Michael Gecan of the Industrial Areas Foundation.

Obamacare, Affordable Care Act, Obamacare repeal, repeal and replace, Congressional Budget Office, Paul Ryan, Donald Trump

The Congressional Budget Office also estimated that premiums for policies purchased through the marketplaces or directly from insurers would increase by 20 to 25 percent next year if Obamacare is repealed without a replacement.

creative activism, Act Out, Donald Trump, Trump Inauguration, Inauguration 2017, #DisruptJ20, Women’s March, J20, anti-Trump protests, non-violent direct action, Samantha Castro, WACA, dissent, protest, political left, hierarchy, NGO, community organizing

As stages are set for the upcoming inauguration, activists across the country prepare to strike, block, march and disrupt. We’ll outline what's happening in D.C. and where you are.

Posted 3 days 5 hours ago
Trump resistance, Indivisible Guide

The incoming administration has fueled a new level of political activism.

Posted 4 days 15 hours ago
London tube strikes, anti-labor laws, anti-strike laws, London Underground, National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers, RMT

Strikers are protesting job losses that have led to a shortage of station staff, which they say is endangering passenger safety and reducing the level of customer service.

Posted 4 days 15 hours ago

The 142-mile-long Trans-Pecos Pipeline would bring fracked gas to the small border city of Presidio, where it would continue on into northern Mexico – in the process crossing under the Rio Grande, threatening fragile water supplies.

Posted 2 days 16 hours ago
Betsy DeVos, public eduction, Chicago Public Schools, privatized education, charter schools, Donald Trump, voucher programs, Charter School Program, dismantling public schools, national voucher program, Wisconsin Education Association Council, Wisconsin t

The president-elect has already pledged $20 billion to expand voucher programs nationwide, and his appointee for Education Secretary, Betsy DeVos, views dismantling public education as a mission from God.

Posted 3 days 5 hours ago
Chelsea Manning, Edward Snowden, WikiLeaks, The New York Times

While not technically a pardon, the order reduces Manning’s sentence from 35 years to just over seven years.

Obamacare, Affordable Care Act, Obamacare repeal, repeal and replace, Congressional Budget Office, Paul Ryan, Donald Trump

The Congressional Budget Office also estimated that premiums for policies purchased through the marketplaces or directly from insurers would increase by 20 to 25 percent next year if Obamacare is repealed without a replacement.

Trump resistance, Indivisible Guide

The incoming administration has fueled a new level of political activism.

London tube strikes, anti-labor laws, anti-strike laws, London Underground, National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers, RMT

Strikers are protesting job losses that have led to a shortage of station staff, which they say is endangering passenger safety and reducing the level of customer service.

money in politics, corporate political class, Michael Gecan, community organizing, parallel political structures, Death of the Liberal Class, Industrial Areas Foundation, Donald Trump, Saul Alinsky, Ralph Nader, mass movements, popular movements

"People who understand power tend to have the patience to build a base, do the training, raise the money, so when they go into action they surprise people,” says community organizer Michael Gecan of the Industrial Areas Foundation.