Federal Charges Filed After Outspoken Worker Leader is Fired Thursday

ONTARIO, Calif. – Javier Rodriguez, a leader for change inside Walmart’s contracted warehouses in Southern California, was fired yesterday from his job as a forklift driver. (More information.)

Rodriguez, along with Warehouse Workers United, filed formal federal charges today to protest the illegal firing.

“Walmart is committed to one thing, looking the other way when workers in its supply chain are abused,” Rodriguez said. “Just look at the factory collapse in Bangladesh this week or the fire that killed 112 last year. Just look at the conditions inside the warehouses in Southern California.”

Supporters launched a petition calling on Walmart to ensure Rodriguez’s reinstatement Friday and plan to deliver the signatures to Walmart officials Monday in Downtown Los Angeles.

Rodriguez and his coworkers have repeatedly demonstrated that Walmart does not hold its contractors to its own standards. Warehouse workers, who are required to work inside dark, hot, metal shipping containers with little ventilation or water, under pressure to meet high quotas in the face of frequent injury, filed a complaint with the state agency responsible for workplace conditions last summer.

Though Walmart initially dismissed workers’ concerns, in December, the Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) cited NFI Industries, which is contracted by Walmart to operate the warehouse, and one staffing agency, tens of thousands of dollars in health and safety violations.

Earlier this month Walmart supply chain workers from the National Guestworker Alliance, Warehouse Workers United, New Labor, Warehouse Workers for Justice and Jobs with Justice convened to respond to Walmart’s claim that it holds its suppliers to its “Standards for Suppliers.” Workers offered their own set of core principles that would ensure improved labor standards in the supply chain.

“What workers have shown is that Walmart’s standards are nothing more than a sheet of paper,” said Guadalupe Palma, director of Warehouse Workers United. “To be serious the Walmart’s standards must be enforceable, credible standards that are centered around workers. Walmart must ensure Javier is reinstated and immediately start acting to resolve serious problems in its supply chain.”

Warehouse Workers United is an organization committed to improving the quality of life and jobs in Southern California’s Inland Empire. More than 85,000 warehouse workers work moving goods for major retailers like Walmart in San Bernardino and Riverside counties.