Friday, May 15, 2009

Guess where Warehouse Workers United ended up? Hint - it starts with a W, and it's not Wendy's

When I wrote this post, I had no idea exactly where the Warehouse Workers United were going to end up.

I should have known that this is where they'd go:

5/15/2009 - Warehouse Workers Fight Walmart’s Anti-Worker Agenda

FONTANA, CA- Today, warehouse workers, clergy, community members, and area students staged a nonviolent civil disobedience outside a Walmart warehouse in San Bernardino County. The protest ended with the arrest of 7 people, including 4 clergy members, who had literally put their bodies on the line by blocking the truck entrance to the warehouse.

Over 200 people gathered in front of the Walmart warehouse, carrying signs with messages such as “Warehouse Workers Want the Freedom to Form a Union.” They were protesting Walmart’s vicious anti-worker and anti-union policies and highlighting the need for the Employee Free Choice Act. Past attempt by workers at this warehouse to form a union were thwarted by management’s harsh tactics of fear and intimidation.

“Greed has become the rule of thumb in our unjust society. Here we have the injustice of degrading salaries and denying the worker's right to be members of a union. Unions are a necessity due to the injustice and exploitation by the Corporations upon the workers,” said Fr. Pat Guillen, a retired Catholic priest with the San Bernardino Diocese, who was arrested at the protest. “Jesus broke bread and shared the cup with His disciples. We demand that the employers also share the cup of production, created by the workers and break the bread of exploitation and injustice, created by the grid of the corporations; for when injustice is present, there cannot be peace.”

The warehouse workers of the Inland Empire are fighting back against the national retailers who dominate the goods movement industry in what is the largest concentration of warehouse space on the planet and the distribution hub of the new global economy. These are the workers who need the Employee Free Choice Act because the only hope to improve these jobs is to allow them the freedom to choose to form a union free from fear and intimidation.

The Inland Empire has some of the highest rates of foreclosures and unemployment in the country, but the main industry of the area, warehousing for national retailers, is built on bad, low paying jobs. Most of these jobs are through temp agencies and, in addition to low pay and no benefits these jobs do not allow workers to have any job security. Jobs in the Inland Empire need to be good jobs with a living wage and affordable health care; this is the best way the region has to pull itself out of the Great Recession.

“I worked in this warehouse and it is a sweatshop. While the workers are slaving away in the heat, management is sitting in their air conditions offices,” said Diana Romero, a 20-year-old single mother who was a temp worker at this Walmart warehouse. “Management was always harassing us. They wouldn’t let the workers speak to each other, they followed us into the bathroom to check on us. What Walmart is doing here is not right and we need a change.”

The Valley Boulevard warehouse is completely dedicated to products destined for Southern California Walmart stores. The facility serves Walmart stores and supplies a significant percent of non-food goods to Walmart stores in the region. The facility operates 7 days a week, with three shifts running 24 hours a day.

P.S. Unrelated comment - this is the first blog post that I have written on our brand new home computer, which was NOT bought at a Wal Mart. It was bought at a Costco. But a lawsuit alleges that Costco makes its workers clock out, then locks them in the warehouse for 15 minutes before they can leave. You can't win.

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