Just days after striking warehouse workers staged a large blockade outside a major Walmart supply warehouse in the suburbs, a group of like-minded labor advocates marched in front of a downtown Chicago Walmart store.
The group, lead by Chicago Jobs With Justice, contained some of the same workers who attended Monday’s rally, like Dakari Whitfield.
Whitfield told Progress Illinois that many employees in the suburban Elmwood warehouse work in harsh conditions indoors without good ventilation, rarely get paid on time, and are treated badly when they complain to managers.
“It’s an unfair labor practices strike. We’re asking for a set schedule, benefits, and maybe transportation,” Whitfield said. “When we presented this position, people got fired and suspended.”
After the group marched for about 20 minutes a half-dozen workers entered the store.
Leah Fried, a spokeswoman for the group, then dropped off a 1,400 page letter with the store’s manager, which contained about 96,000 signatures. An additional 11,000 were sent to Walmart headquarters through an online petition.
The store manager quietly listened to Fried explain the letter. He then said he would deliver it to the “appropriate people.”
The contents of the letter echoed the same concerns laid out by Yulona Dickerson, a former warehouse employee. Dickerson said many workers become ill with respiratory sicknesses because of the lack of ventilation, but they don’t have the health benefits and many cannot afford to pay for treatment.
“We don’t get paid hourly, we get paid by production,” Dickerson said. “Production means if they bring a truck in, you get paid by the piece. If they pay $50 and you have a partner that means you get $25 for emptying off that truck.”
Here's more from Dickerson and other supporters of the Walmart warehouse workers:
A Walmart spokesman told the Chicago Tribune this week that the striking workers represent only a small fraction of the company’s 1.4 million employees and said their experiences are not typical.
Meanwhile, in Los Angeles another group of Walmart workers showed up at city hall to decry similar abuses. Those workers first went on strike Thursday morning as about 200 Walmart associates walked off their jobs. Those employees say their bosses took retaliatory action against them by docking them hours or giving them difficult tasks.
Additionally, as PI reported on Tuesday, some warehouse workers have already filed lawsuits against Walmart citing unfair labor practices.