For Immediate Release: Thursday, January 10, 2013
Contact: Elizabeth Brennan at 213-999-2164
LOS ANGELES – In an open letter to Walmart’s Board of Directors and other top leadership, warehouse workers raised serious concerns about a new plan to monitor domestic warehousing facilities. Read the open letter to Walmart leadership.
Walmart announced plans for a new program modeled after its flawed global monitoring program without any detail in The Wall Street Journal Dec. 28. A Walmart spokesman said only that they take the issue “seriously.”
“Replicating the failed monitoring system currently in use overseas is not taking the problem seriously. Failing to consult with workers directly impacted by these decisions is not taking the problem seriously,” stated the letter from Warehouse Workers United, an advocacy group committed to improving warehousing jobs in Southern California.
In November, 112 workers died in a Bangladeshi garment factory that was producing goods for Walmart and since then there have been numerous reports detailing the failed program.
“The failed global monitoring system cannot be a model for fixing supply chain problems in the U.S.,” said Guadalupe Palma, a campaign director with Warehouse Workers United. “We have documented serious violations in many of Walmart’s contracted warehouses including unsafe working conditions, stolen wages, extreme temperatures, injury, inadequate access to water and retaliation against workers who speak up for their rights.”
In the past two years, workers affiliated with Warehouse Workers United have filed numerous complaints with multiple government agencies. As a result, at least six Walmart contractors in California have been fined for more than $1.3 million. Workers have also filed complaints with Walmart directly and gone on strike to protest the problems and the retaliation suffered when workers try to improve their workplaces.
“Walmart’s domestic warehouse supply chain is in desperate need for reform to ensure workers are treated with dignity and respect, in accordance with the law, and in accordance with Walmart’s own stated ‘Standards for Suppliers,’” the letter to about 20 Walmart executives read. “In reality, none of those standards are upheld today…A public relations campaign by Walmart and a toothless monitoring system will not make the problems disappear.”
Workers are asking Walmart’s leadership to revisit the issue and include stakeholders in the reform process.
Workers and their supporters are calling on Walmart to take responsibility for working conditions in the warehouses it relies on. As the largest retailer in the world, Walmart effectively dictates the standards of operation in the logistics and distribution industry. This impacts the lives of 85,000 warehouse workers in Southern California who every day unload merchandise from shipping containers that enter through the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach and load it onto trucks destined for retail stores like Walmart.