We, workers at Schneider Logistics in Mira Loma, CA and our colleagues are grateful for the solidarity with our struggle that the Shut Down the Corporations movement is planning on February 29. We have worked moving goods for Walmart in the Inland Empire for years, under difficult conditions, and at a serious cost to our health and the welfare of our families. We are fighting to change these conditions for the better through organizing for justice and asking that Walmart take responsibility for us. By adopting a Responsible Contractor Policy, Walmart can put an end to the abuses we suffer and afford us the dignity we deserve. In November, the company threatened to dismiss workers because we spoke up: about having wages stolen from us, about working up to 72 hours straight, about not receiving even minimum wage after working 16 hour days consistently for years.
We share many of the objectives of the Occupy movement, first and foremost the need for more justice and equality in our economic system, and the need for big corporations like Walmart to stop abusing workers, to contribute to a fairer distribution of wealth, and to put an end to the lawbreaking and worker abuse that permeates the supply chain. But the action on February 29 is not our action – we are glad it is happening, but we had no role in its planning. To be clear, the organization Warehouse Workers United is not coordinating with any organization or group that takes action on February 29 at the Schneider warehouse. We intend to go to work that day, because many of us live under such economic pressure due to our low pay that we cannot afford to miss even a day of work. We are encouraged by your actions, and hope that your efforts draw attention to the profound injustice we have been fighting against in Walmart’s warehouses.
We have heard statements that participants and observers at the planned peaceful protest on February 29 risk arrest. Our response: the real law-breaking is going on inside that facility every day. This is where law enforcement agencies like the Department of Labor Standards Enforcement have already found major violations and continue to investigate. As far as what demonstrators may do or not do on February 29, WE DID NOT PLAN THIS ACTION AND we have no control over DEMONSTRATORS. But in this country, the right to freedom of assembly applies to all of us– and we hope that the assembly on February 29 will be civil.
For the record, our organization Warehouse Workers United has a long track record of demonstrating in the Inland Empire, and we have shown time and time again that we are strongly committed to non-violence, in the tradition of Gandhi, Martin Luther King, and Cesar Chavez.
In this spirit, we hope that any action that intends to be supportive of our cause be strictly non-violent. We call on demonstrators to hold each other accountable for their actions. We also call on the Riverside County Sheriff to minimize the chances of police over-reaction and to ensure that police response is appropriate and respectful of the rights of protesters.
We thank the Occupy Movement for joining with the many groups calling for Walmart to change its ways, and hope the action you have planned on February 29 is a successful one.
Daniel M. Lopez
Angel Luis Santos
Emis E. Diaz
Francisco H. Garcia
Mira Loma, CA
February 24, 2012