Supporters are calling on the retail giant to ensure its contractors follow the law and protect workers’ rights.
SAN FRANCISCO – Workers and their supporters delivered almost 20,000 signatures calling on Walmart to take responsibility for conditions in its supply chain to two members of Walmart’s executive board – Aida Alvarez, chair of the Latino Community Foundation, and Marissa Mayer, CEO of Yahoo, Inc.
Workers from Quetico, LLC, a warehouse in Chino, California that moves merchandise destined for Walmart and other retailers, launched the petition in February after the state determined that 865 workers had more than $1 million in wages stolen from them.
“We are grateful for the support from so many people throughout the country,” said Yurguien Juarez, a warehouse worker who traveled to San Francisco. “We really hope that with all this attention Walmart will recognize the need to involve workers in ensuring conditions inside the warehouses are safe and workers are treated with respect.”
After conducting a lengthy investigation into serious wage and hour complaints at that warehouse, the state of California issued a citation to Quetico for $1 million in wage theft over the last three years based on unpaid overtime wages, penalties, and meal period violations. Since the Labor Commissioner announced her department’s findings, harassment against the workers has increased and the company has vowed to appeal the ruling prompting workers to create the petition.
Support has been strong. Walmart workers, students, union members and community supporters joined the peaceful delivery of the petition signatures.
“Walmart must listen to the very people who make its business work,” said Feng Kung with Jobs with Justice in San Francisco. “We are proud to join with warehouse workers in their fight to improve their jobs.”
The petition calls on Walmart to enforce its “Standards for Suppliers” with real accountability and input from workers like Yurguien Juarez. As the largest retailer in the world, Walmart holds the power to clean up an entire industry, improve jobs and protect workers willing to speak out for the greater good.
Workers also asked both Alavarez and Mayer to meet with them. Warehouse workers noted that the goals of the Latino Community Foundation, which Alvarez chairs, and of Warehouse Workers United are similar.
“We estimate that about 80 percent of the 85,000 warehouse workers in the region are Latino,” said Guadalupe Palma, director of Warehouse Workers United. “Like the Latino Community Foundation we are focused on transforming the lives of thousands of workers and their families. Good jobs with decent wages, access to healthcare and other basic rights are key to warehouse workers’ ability to achieve the American Dream.”
Warehouse Workers United is an organization committed to improving the quality of life and jobs for warehouse workers in Southern California’s Inland Empire. About 85,000 workers, mostly Latino, labor in San Bernardino and Riverside counties moving goods that are destined for retailers like Walmart. The majority of workers are hired through temp agencies, paid low wages, receive no benefits, and have no job security.