Warehouse Workers Sit-In at Temp Agency, Occupy Building

Apr 16, 2009, 16:16 ET from Warehouse Workers United

Warehouse Workers Tell Walmart: "Don't Temp Out the American Dream"

FONTANA, Calif., April 16 /PRNewswire/ -- Today twelve supporters of Warehouse Workers United - a group working to improve warehouse jobs in California's Inland Empire - sat-in at a temporary employment service office, occupying the building. The group, composed of warehouse workers, students, and community members, along with over 100 supporters picketing in front of the Staffmark office (16846 Valley Blvd, # C, Fontana, CA 92335), is protesting the bad jobs in the region's dominant industry: warehousing. Warehouse jobs could be good, middle class jobs that help lift the Inland Empire out of the current economic crisis, but instead they are bad jobs with low wages and no benefits.

"We are here today because warehouse workers are struggling to get by and we need good jobs with good pay, health care, and the right to choose to form a union," said Olga Romero, a local warehouse worker who is participating in the protest. "Powerful companies like Walmart, Target, Lowe's, Home Depot, and Sears/Kmart, are in control out here and they need to take responsibility for the workers in their supply chain."

What started as a rally on the corner of Sierra Avenue and Valley Boulevard, a major intersection in the City of Fontana, quickly turned into a sit-in at the Staffmark office up the street. Over half of all warehouse workers in the Inland Empire are hired through temp agencies and subject to a degrading and dangerous work environment. These workers are poorly paid, actively denied the opportunity to work a 40-hour week, laid off without warning or compensation, forced to work with old and unsafe equipment, and threatened with dismissal if they speak up about the hazardous conditions at the warehouse. Laid off temp warehouse workers cannot collect unemployment insurance, have no recall rights, and cannot make ends meet. Some are forced to live in their cars while others have been reduced to searching dumpsters to find food for their families.

"These bad warehouse jobs are killing our community," said Brett Fisher, a longtime warehouse worker. "How are we supposed to take care of our families when big retailers like Walmart hide behind temp agencies and treat us like we are slave labor?"

While the rest of the country is experiencing a recession, the Inland Empire is in the middle of a depression with nation-leading rates of unemployment and foreclosures. The big retailers that dominate the warehouse industry -- Walmart, Target, Sears/Kmart, Home Depot, Lowe's -- have built a business model dependent on low wage, temp jobs that are destroying the region's already struggling economy. Warehouse workers are calling on the nation's retail giants to recognize the responsibility they have for workers in their supply chain and make warehouse jobs good jobs with a living wage, affordable health care benefits, and the freedom to choose to form a union without harassment and intimidation.

"I am not a temporary person, so why should I have a temporary job that forces me to choose between paying rent and feeding my kids?," said Clarissa Lua, a local warehouse worker and mother of three. "The only jobs we can get out here are warehouse jobs; they have to be good jobs and companies like Walmart have to do the right thing."

Warehouse Workers United is dedicated to improving the lives of warehouse workers by creating a strong voice for change.

SOURCE Warehouse Workers United