2013-08-22 "Walmart Supplier Warehouse Workers Fired For Taking 5-Minute Break, They Say"
by Kathleen Miles [http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/08/22/walmart-warehouse-workers-fired_n_3787659.html]:
workers at a Walmart supplier's Southern California warehouse said they
were suspended indefinitely Friday after taking a five-minute break in
temperatures of more than 90 degrees.
The workers said they believe
they were suspended from the Olivet International warehouse in Mira
Loma, about an hour east of Los Angeles, in retaliation for raising
concerns about working conditions over the last few months. The
suspended workers, joined by a couple dozen supporters, picketed
Wednesday morning in front of the warehouse to protest the suspensions.
Hernandez, 21, said he had worked at the warehouse full time for a year
until Friday. "We take heat breaks two or three times a day," Hernandez
told HuffPost. "But then on Friday, they told us they were suspending
us for taking a heat break.
"I want management to hear us and take a
walk in our shoes to see what we go through every day. This warehouse is
really tough to work in under such hot temperatures with no cool
water," he said.
Hernandez said that when he and his coworkers have
asked for water or raised safety concerns about speeding or overloaded
forklifts, "They ignore us. They take us as a joke." Still, he said he
wants to return to work because his pay helps support his parents and
Olivet International did not respond to HuffPost's
requests for comment. Walmart declined to comment, referring questions
Warehouse Workers United, a labor union that supports the
workers but does not officially represent them, filed an unfair labor
practice charge with the National Labor Relations Board for each of the
10 suspended workers.
Olivet International, a privately held
company, designs, manufactures and distributes handbags, luggage and
apparel, according to its website. Workers at the warehouse in Mira Loma
unpack, label and load boxes of Olivet handbags and luggage. Olivet
managers told workers in a meeting that about 70 percent of its business
goes to Walmart, two workers said. Hernandez said about half of the
truck traffic at the warehouse is Walmart rigs.
customers include Big Lots, Bloomingdales, J.C. Penney, Kmart, Kohl's,
Macy's, Marshalls, Nordstrom, Ross, Saks Fifth Avenue, Sam's Club,
Sears, Target and T.J. Maxx, the company says on its website (reproduced
after this article).
Guadalupe Palma, director of Warehouse Workers
United, said all 10 suspended workers participated in a two-day strike
in late July. About 30 of the roughly 200 workers at the warehouse in
Mira Loma participated in the strike to protest what they said was
intimidation, spying and retaliation for raising concerns about working
The union in May filed a complaint with the California
Occupational Safety and Health Administration alleging blocked fire
exits, inadequate access to water and collapses of towers of boxes.
State workers inspected the warehouse following the complaint. That
investigation is ongoing, according to the union. A Cal/OSHA spokesman
wasn't immediately available for comment.
Soon after the inspection,
the warehouse installed video cameras in employee break rooms and
brought in consultants who advised workers not to discuss working
conditions, Hernandez and another worker said.
"There's even [a
camera] by the restroom. They can see every time you go the restroom,"
Hernandez said. "I think they're trying to intimidate us, to see every
move we make."
Heidi Baizabal, a single mother of four who had worked
at the warehouse for five years before being suspended, said
supervisors expressed worry in recent months when warehouse workers
began organizing. “They were telling us that the Walmart company, which
is one of their main clients, was going to leave, and we’d wind up
without work," she said.
Baizabal said she believes her suspension
was retaliation for the July strike and for asking for better working
conditions. “I feel bad. I feel depressed because my family depends on
this," Baizabal told HuffPost in Spanish. “We want Walmart to take
responsibility and put pressure on Olivet to give us a secure job with a
(Baizabal was interviewed in Spanish by Roque Planas, associate editor of HuffPost Latino Voices.)
"Warehouse workers exposed to illegal and dangerous working conditions
seek state intervention, fire exits often blocked"
from "Warehouse Workers United" [http://www.warehouseworkersunited.org/warehouse-workers-exposed-to-illegal-and-dangerous-working-conditions-seek-state-intervention/]:
Calif. — Citing blocked fire exits, frequent collapses of heavy boxes
stacked 30 feet high and lack of adequate drinking water, more than two
dozen workers who primarily move Walmart merchandise at a warehouse in
Mira Loma, California called on the state of California to intervene to
improve working conditions.
The workers, many of whom are paid less
than $200 per week, made their detailed complaint to California’s
Division of Occupational Safety and Health, or Cal/OSHA, public Thursday
morning. “It’s hard to imagine worse conditions inside of a domestic
warehouse,” said Guadalupe Palma, director of Warehouse Workers United.
“Workers are exposed to incredibly dangerous working conditions.
report blocked fire exits in the warehouse; a situation all the more
troubling in light of the recent Bangladeshi garment workers tragedy.”
The 455,000 square foot warehouse operated by Olivet International Inc.
is a key facility for Walmart luggage with Walmart’s Protégé brand
suitcase representing one of the most common products that move through
the warehouse. About 200 workers labor inside the warehouse.
of the suitcases and pet products that we lift go to Walmart,” said
Miriam Garcia, who has worked at the warehouse for two years. “We see
Walmart’s name on boxes and paperwork inside the warehouse.” “It is
unsafe inside the warehouse. We are treated like animals and are often
yelled at and told to work faster. It is dangerous inside the warehouse.
High stacks of boxes often fall and some of the forklifts don’t have
working brakes. We are often blocked inside of the metal shipping
containers in the darkness.”
* Working inside pitch black 53 foot long containers
* Blocked fire exits.
* Forklifts without working brakes and in need of repair
* One bathroom available to workers.
* The bathroom door does not always lock.
* Towers of boxes routinely fall.
* Leaks in forklift propane tanks and refueling hoses.
warehouses are a critical link in Walmart’s domestic supply chain.
Warehouse workers in Southern California’s Inland Empire unpack shipping
containers that arrive in the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach from
Asia and are then trucked to warehouses in Riverside and San Bernardino
Warehouse workers at Olivet and other facilities, working
for Walmart contractors and temporary staffing agencies, manually load
and unload 50-75 pound boxes destined for Walmart’s shelves. “The work
is very hard,” said Cesar Garcia, who has worked at the warehouse for
six years. “It’s harder because the warehouse operator cuts every corner
it can. We don’t always have lights in the containers so we use our
cell phones for light. We don’t have the right safety equipment either.
It’s very dangerous.”
In April workers from Walmart’s global supply
chain released core principles that would ensure basic labor standards
in the megaretailer’s global supply chain. Workers from the National
Guestworker Alliance, Bangladesh Center for Worker Solidarity, Warehouse
Workers United, New Labor, Warehouse Workers for Justice and Jobs with
Justice agreed that Walmart’s standards must be enforceable and
credible, and that workers must have a voice in the process in order for
working conditions to improve.
Over the course of 2012,
guestworkers, factory workers and warehouse workers exposed deadly,
unsafe and illegal conditions inside Walmart’s contracted facilities. In
response to pressure from workers’ groups, Walmart has accepted
responsibility for conditions in its supply chain, but the company’s own
solutions fail to uphold its basic standards and the law.
Comment from Jay says: This is not the only warehouse That has unsafe
conditions. Ryder in Moreno Valley, Ross Distribution center in perris,
Star Crest in Perris and so many more in The I.E.
When you make a complaint to the temp agencies they do nothing or let you go.
temp agencies are called Kimco Staffing, Staff Mark, and so many more.
The pay sucks And the range is from $8-$9 And the most only pay 8
Dollars an hour. It’s really time that all these Temp agencies and
warehouse is get expose!
Olivet International's customers [http://www.olivetintl.com/customers.html]: