Monday, August 19, 2013

Walmart warehouse workers get justice and a huge raise

About 75 temporary workers got permanent jobs at a Walmart-controlled warehouse in Riverside, Calif., as a result of a federal lawsuit alleging massive wage theft by the giant retailer and its contractors. The permanent jobs come with a 60 percent wage increase, health benefits and paid sick time.

Warehouse Workers United tells us warehouse workers filed a class-action lawsuit in federal court nearly two years ago to recover back pay, penalties and damages. They claim Walmart-contracted warehouses forced them to work off the clock, denied them overtime pay, and retaliated when they stood up for their rights. U.S. District Court Judge Christina Snyder ruled Walmart could be added to the suit as a defendant.

It is unclear how, exactly, the lawsuit led to the 75 workers getting full-time jobs and raises. What is clear is that two of the contractors, Schneider Logistics and Rogers-Premier Unloading Services, tried to fire every single worker in retaliation for bringing suit. The workers, who actually worked for temp agency Impact Logistics, got a restraining order in February against the companies.

Five months earlier, the California Department of Labor Standards Enforcement raided the warehouses in October and fined them more than $1 million for inadequate recordkeeping alone.

According to Warehouse Workers United, the workers were offered full-time jobs with Schneider. They are about to get raises. Said warehouse worker Reynaldo Rios Ibanez
I haven’t received my first paycheck just yet, but it will be about double. It means it will be easier to take care of my family. Before I could not buy one single extra thing.
Guadalupe Palma, director of Warehouse Workers United, said:
This demonstrates that the minute the staffing agencies were forced to comply with the law they began losing money because they could no longer cut corners. But the fact that now all workers at this critical Walmart-contracted warehouses will make a living wage with benefits shows that improving the quality of warehousing jobs is entirely within reach for major retailers like Walmart.
The Riverside workers aren't the only ones fighting for a living wage against Walmart contractors. Last month, 32 warehouse workers walked off the job at a Mira Loma, Calif., warehouse and successfully returned to work two days later.

 If you fight, you can win.