Guadalupe Palma is deputy director of Warehouse Workers United, new organization of warehouse workers in the Inland Empire dedicated to bringing warehouse workers together for better jobs and a brighter future. Learn more.
With President Barack Obama’s visit to an Amazon fulfillment center in Chattanooga, Tennessee it’s a good time to shed some light on typical warehousing jobs. Here are eight problems in the industry:
8) What does your paycheck really say? Are workers being paid an hourly wage or are you being paid piece rate? Piece rate means a flat rate for unloading a container of goods. This practice is not inherently illegal unless it amounts to less than minimum wage, which it often does.
7) Are workers paying the company for a ride to work? Some warehousing temp agencies charge workers fees to take them to work and then cram as many as 18 people into one van even though companies “can’t charge for transportation” legally, they do.
Over the last several months, warehouse workers have drawn attention to serious problems with their working conditions and subsequent retaliation against those who have spoken up.
Warehouse work is strenuous and hard on the body. For hours on end, workers lift heavy boxes in the same pattern as they load and unload shipping containers and trailers. Workers are asked to do the humanly impossible or risk losing their jobs every day. It is more common to meet a warehouse worker who has been injured than one who is healthy.
This week, workers took action to address serious injuries associated with this repetitive motion. Warehouse Workers United on behalf of workers filed a complaint with the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health Monday Sept. 24 detailing a high rate of injury associated with unreasonable quotas. They are seeking an immediate investigation of the facility.
, working in unsafe conditions for up to 16 hours a day for months at a time is not uncommon. Asking for safe and clean working conditions or a reasonable work schedule could mean losing his job. Last week, Daniel and I, along with other workers, went to Sacramento to urge the California Senate to pass AB 1855. They did
, and if signed by Gov. Jerry Brown, AB 1855, sponsored by Assemblymember Norma Torres and Sen. Juan Vargas, will extend basic protections to tens of thousands of warehouse workers.
Hundreds of millions of tons of goods enter the United States every year through our nation’s busiest ports in Long Beach and Los Angeles. Containers are then trucked through the Los Angeles basin to the Inland Empire, San Bernardino and Riverside counties, where roughly 85,000 warehouse workers, mostly Latino, unpack and reload items onto trucks destined for retail outlets.
of and solidarity of workers in Walmart contracted warehouses. Last October, after working in scorching heat with no breaks for hours on end, roughly 100 workers at a major Walmart contracted warehouse took legal action against Schneider Logistics after noticing wages were being stolen from their paychecks.
The action prompted a notice to terminate the workers en masse, a discharge that was scheduled to take effect on February 24th, and a series of legal battles in which a California District Court barred the Walmart contractor from firing the workers.
In October, the State of California raided and cited the labor agencies who staff the warehouses run by Schneider Logistics in Mira Loma, one of the biggest Walmart-contracted distribution centers in the country. These citations exceeded $1 million in recordkeeping violations alone. The investigation into the broad scale and systematic wage theft reported by these warehouses workers is still under investigation by the State of California.
In addition, the workers at the warehouse filed a complaint in federal court, because they repeatedly worked more than 16 hours straight without breaks or overtime, they are paid in confusing and deceptive ways often resulting in not just the denying of all wages due but also in widespread minimum wage violations , and that the warehouse managers retaliated by firing and disciplining workers who ask for their full wages.