Southern California Warehouse Workers on Strike

Workers Call on Walmart to Take Responsibility for Warehouses

RIVERSIDE, Calif. – Warehouse workers went on strike to protest unfair labor practices they have faced on the job Wednesday morning, following months of working in hot temperatures under extreme pressure in a major Walmart-contracted warehouse in Southern California.

Workers—who do not have a recognized union—walked off the job during the first shift at an NFI warehouse in Mira Loma, California to call for an end to retaliation and unfair labor practices. Workers have been fighting for more than a year for safe working conditions and for Walmart to take responsibility for conditions in the warehouse.

“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.

The strike comes one day before workers and their supporters begin a 50-mile, six-day pilgrimage from the warehouses to Downtown Los Angeles.

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. Workers are employed by NFI and a temporary labor agency, Warestaff. Both companies are Walmart subcontractors, but the retail giant has ignored repeated attempts by workers to meet and address the inhumane and illegal conditions in its contracted warehouses.

As the largest retailer in the world, Walmart dictates the standards of operation in the logistics and distribution industry.

“These workers have exhausted all options,” said Guadalupe Palma, a director of Warehouse Workers United, an organization committed to improving warehousing jobs in Southern California’s Inland Empire. “Walmart must stop ignoring warehouse workers and intervene to uphold its own stated “Standards for Suppliers,” eliminate inhumane and illegal working conditions and sit down directly with warehouse workers to hear about their experiences in the warehouses and figure out how to improve working conditions.”

More than 85,000 workers labor in warehouses in Southern California, unloading merchandise from shipping containers that enter through the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach and loading it onto trucks destined for retail stores like Walmart. The National Labor Relations Board is currently investigating numerous federal charges filed by the warehouse workers.

WHAT: Press Conference to Launch Warehouse Worker Pilgrimage
WHEN: 10 a.m., Thursday, Sept. 13
WHERE: 601 S. Milliken Ave., Suite A, Ontario, California 91761
WHO: Warehouse Workers
Assemblymember Norma Torres
Rev. Eric Lee, Southern Christian Leadership Conference
Art Rodriguez, President of United Farm Workers of America
Members of the clergy
VISUALS: Warehouse workers and their supporters will hold a short press conference in front of a warehouse and then commence marching up Milliken Ave. with signs and a backdrop of some of the world’s largest warehouses.

Warehouse workers will embark on their 50-mile march Sept. 13. They will sleep on church floors and rely on community organizations for support and meals. Marchers will be joined daily by supporters and elected officials. Workers will hold daily media events and will be available for interviews in English and Spanish throughout the entire march.

Follow the march on social media using the hashtag #WalMarch

3 Comments on "Southern California Warehouse Workers on Strike"

  1. I was employed with Walmart and it was the most horrible job I have ever had and I’m 50 years old. That should speak loudly. I have NEVER received an employee write-up until I worked for Walmart. They have their own set of rules so I completely support you ALL.
    The donation I’m sending is from my unemployment so you know I mean it. I don’t have much but I’ll do what I can.

  2. marco petrolino | September 13, 2012 at 2:25 pm | Reply

    Wal-Mart is an example of what happens when prices for merchandise are reduced to an artificially low point. In order to achieve profitability, such a company makes up the margin by neglecting its employees basic human needs; denies that issues/problems exist, reduces employee benefits or suspends/revokes them entirely. In conducting their business in such a manner, Wal-Mart and like companies utterly devalue their human workers, without whom the company would cease to function. The most obvious solution is that we must, as a society united, recognize that the expense in producing and retailing products for consumer sale is higher than what we are accustomed to paying but, if a shadow of ethical and moral concern is still present, that is a reality. The factory workers are not simply disposable or expendable, they are feeling, rational, deserving human beings who deserve every shred of reasonable accommodation available.

  3. Stephen Bartlett | September 14, 2012 at 9:57 pm | Reply

    This is a righteous and moral cause, with alliance building and grassroots energy comes power!
    –S Bartlett, Ag Missions, KY May Day Coalition

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