WAL-MART WAREHOUSE distribution workers in southern California and Illinois are on strike, demanding the respect they deserve from the corporate giant.
The walkout by roughly 30 employees in Elwood, Ill., about an hour’s drive southwest of Chicago, came just days after a similar-sized group struck in Mira Loma, Calif.
Although the mega-retailer doesn’t directly employ them, the workers and activists who support them say blame for dismal working conditions, intimidation and harassment falls squarely on the shoulders of Wal-Mart and its drive to cut costs by squeezing workers to the breaking point.
In Illinois, the workers are employed by Wal-Mart contractor Schneider Logistics, which in turn uses a payroll contractor called RoadlinkWorkforce Solutions to run the warehouse. On September 13, according to the group Warehouse Workers for Justice (WWJ)–a project of the United Electrical Workers (UE) union which has lent support to the non-union employees–the workers filed a federal lawsuit against Roadlink for non-payment of wages and overtime, and paying less than the minimum wage.
“I worked for Roadlink Workforce Solutions in the Wal-Mart warehouse,” worker Vincent Hoffmann explained in a press release. “They had us working 10 or more hours a day lifting heavy boxes, but then didn’t pay me the overtime that I had worked so hard for. It’s hard enough trying to make ends meet and then they cheat us out of what we earned.”
Organizers say the workers are routinely forced to lift boxes weighing 250 pounds or more, and that heat topping 100 degrees in the summer is common in the facility and trucks.
Striking Wal-Mart workers in California say they face similarly unsafe conditions. Supported by the California-based Warehouse Workers United, they recently completed a 50-mile, six-day walk from Riverside to downtown Los Angeles to bring awareness of the poor working conditions they face. Read more