CONTACT: Elizabeth Brennan at 213-999-2164
ONTARIO, Calif. – Warehouse workers in Mira Loma, California were vindicated after the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health issued a dozen citations against a Walmart-contractor for a range of unsafe and illegal working conditions.
Twenty warehouse workers filed a complaint with Cal/OSHA in May citing blocked fire exits, inadequate access to restrooms, falling boxes of merchandise and more. Thursday the state agency notified Olivet International, the warehousing contractor, of 12 citations, including six of a more serious nature. Fines total $34,400.
“We knew the conditions at the warehouse were not right,” said Cesar Garcia, who works at the warehouse. “Many of us were scared to speak out about the dangers we faced at work. We risked a lot, but we were right.”
Cal/OSHA inspectors cited the company for almost every problem workers identified including: blocked fire exits; merchandise stacked without support; an insufficient number of restrooms; no plan in the event of an injury on the job; no effective training on heat exposure or heat illness; a lack of proper foot protection including steel-toed boots; blocked aisles; and insufficient lighting.
The citations at the Olivet International warehouse, a facility that moves Walmart suitcases, is the eighth Walmart-contracted warehouse found in violation of California and federal law regarding the health and safety of employees.
“Everywhere we look, we find warehouses rife with frightening and unsafe conditions that put employees in peril,” said Guadalupe Palma, director of Warehouse Workers United. “As long as retailers like Walmart turn a blind eye to the illegal conditions inside their contracted facilities workers will continue to be hurt on the job.”
In July more than 30 warehouse workers—who do not have a recognized union—at the Olivet warehouse went on strike for two days to protest overbearing surveillance, retaliation and unfair labor practices they experienced after they exposed dangerous and unsafe working conditions.
During the investigation, Cal/OSHA investigators also uncovered a previously unknown part of the warehouse where workers manufacture suitcases on site with a “Made in the U.S.A.” label. The citations issued Oct. 10 include three pertaining to unsafe machinery inside the factory portion of the facility.
Warehouse Workers United works with warehouse and other workers in Walmart’s global supply chain to improve the quality of life and jobs.